The African Development Bank and UN Women sign a $4 million financing agreement to support women entrepreneurs in West Africa. The collaboration agreement was signed by Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Marie Laure Akin-Olugbade in Dakar
The African Development Bank Group, through its Initiative to Promote Women’s Access to Finance in Africa (AFAWA), signed on 27 January in Dakar, A US$4 million funding agreement with UN Women to support women entrepreneurs’ access to government procurement in West Africa.
The financing agreement – the largest ever signed by the Bank in support of UN Women – will improve access to government procurement for women-led businesses and the development of gender-sensitive procurement initiatives. in the framework of inclusive post-Covid-19 recovery programmes in Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
“The African Development Bank is extremely proud to have signed this project in partnership with UN Women with funding from the AFAWA initiative,” said Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Bank Executive Director for the West Africa Region. “ We are committed to unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of women and seeing them grow. We are confident that this high-impact project will provide great opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Senegal and the region.”
The collaboration agreement was signed by Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Marie Laure Akin-Olugbade in Dakar. The signing took place in the presence of the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, on an official visit to Senegal, and the Senegalese Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation, Amadou Hott.
Government procurement accounts for a significant share of global demand for goods and services – a multi-billion dollar industry representing 15-30% of global gross domestic product. However, women-owned businesses have access to only 1% of public procurement. In West Africa, women are underrepresented as entrepreneurs accessing public procurement opportunities. A UN Women study found that in Senegal, for example, less than 10% of women entrepreneurs are informed about positive legislation on public procurement aimed at increasing women’s engagement, and less than 5% are effectively informed of the procurement process and methods.
Oulimata Sarr welcomed the strategic partnership between UN Women and the African Development Bank Group. “This project comes at the right time because women entrepreneurs need support for recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Oulimata Sarr. “ The public and private sectors have an essential role to play in enabling women-owned businesses to access larger contracts. In addition to interventions in Nigeria, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, the project will work with regional institutions to influence key continental processes that are important for women entrepreneurs’ access to markets, such as the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.” ,” she said.
The project aims to improve legislation and improve women’s ability to access public tenders – by ensuring that women have technical skills to access procurement opportunities. The project will also help mitigate the impact of the health crisis by helping women-led small and medium-sized enterprises improve their skills to manage their online operations, operate remotely and adjust their business models, including exploring opportunities for innovation.
As part of this project, UN Women will work with national procurement agencies, small- and medium-sized enterprise departments, and women entrepreneurs.
(Distributed by APO Group)