- Women own about a third of all registered African SMEs.
- Ecobank is allocating a minimum of 10 per cent of its loan portfolio to women’s businesses.
Ecobank Kenya has launched an initiative targeting women entrepreneurs with financial and value-added solutions.
Dubbed ‘Ellevate’, the programme aims to help their businesses reach their full potential and succeed.
According to the pan African lender, Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for about 90 per cent of all businesses in Africa and women own about a third of all registered African SMEs.
Indeed, one in four (25.9 per cent) of adult women in Africa start or manage a business.
However, women have not enjoyed equal access to high-quality, demand-driven financial services and it is estimated that women-owned SMEs face a $42 billion financing gap, making lack of access to financing a common constraint to their business growth.
Ecobank Kenya, managing director Cheikh Travaly, said the growth of women-led and women-focused businesses has been long hampered by a range of impediments, including access to finance.
"We have specially designed Ellevate to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs through the provision of comprehensive, customized and tailor-made solutions,'' Travaly said.
Those solutions include favourable lending rates, smart cash management enablement and a suite of value-added services such as leadership training, mentoring and networking opportunities.
Ecobank Commercial Bank is allocating a minimum of 10 per cent of its loan portfolio to women’s businesses.
According to the bank, women-led businesses are a largely underserved market and Ecobank Kenya is determined to help them reach their potential, grasp business opportunities and become both scalable and sustainable.
''This will enable them to play a major role in Africa’s social and economic development, in addition to creating thousands of the jobs needed by this and future generations of Kenyans.”
Since Ecobank Group launched the programme in 2020, it has so far extended $208 million in loans and attracted $337.7 million in deposits.
On average, this financial support has created an average of between 90,000 to 150,000 jobs across Africa largely in the areas of education, agribusiness, hospitality, retail and distributorship.
During the event, Ecobank Kenya also donated over 6,700 sanitary pads to County Girls High School and Immaculate Hearts Don Bosco centre to support young girls from needy backgrounds.