• She said financial institutions had failed to understand and respond to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs.
• The CoG chair acknowledged that while many steps have been taken and much progress has been made, it is still work in progress.
Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru has called for innovative approaches to bridge the glaring financing gap for women in Africa.
Waiguru who was addressing Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) meeting in Nairobi said women still face challenges when seeking to finance their entrepreneurial projects.
She said financial institutions had failed to understand and respond to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs.
The CoG chair acknowledged that while many steps have been taken and much progress has been made, it is still work in progress.
She cited the World Bank’s report 'The Cost of Gender Inequality' which highlighted the lack of opportunities for girls and women resulting in significant economic costs not only for them but also for their households, communities and countries.
Waiguru said current trends indicate that it will take two centuries to close the gap in women economic empowerment.
"I do not accept a world that tells the young women that economic equality can wait for their granddaughter’s granddaughters. Our world cannot afford to wait any longer and I know you agree with me,” she said.
Waiguru, who is also the Kirinyaga governor, cited traditional collateral requirements which she said only serve to reinforce gender inequalities.
She emphasised on the need to equip women with financial knowledge, confidence and skills to help them choose appropriate services and products.
Waiguru asked stakeholders to use the AFWA forum as an opportunity to increase women’s use of the full range of financial services offered.
AFAWA is a pan-African initiative to bridge the USD42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa.
It leverages the African Development Bank’s financial instruments and has two innovative solutions to drastically transform the banking and financial landscape in Africa to create incentives for lending to women in business.
According to the AFAWA initiative, Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world with one out of four women starting or managing a business in the Sub-Saharan Africa.
However, these women face multiple challenges to access finance including prohibitive interest rates and legal and regulatory frameworks.