Three African women fund managers selected for Visa grant

Kenya's Altree Capital is among the selected three

In Summary
  • The funding is a collaboration between Standard Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
  • The three women-led companies selected are Altree Capital (Kenya),  Maia Capital (South Africa) and SME.NG (Nigeria). 

Three African women fund managers have been selected to receive Visa grant funding from the African Women Impact Fund Initiative (AWIF). 

The funding is a collaboration between Standard Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The three women-led companies selected are Altree Capital (Kenya),  Maia Capital (South Africa) and SME.NG (Nigeria). 

Standard Bank Group in a statement said the AWIF funds will focus on a selection of projects and programmes that are in line with strategic objectives, identification, evaluation of risks and supervision of the businesses.

“The firms are expected to utilise the funds for their warehousing capital needs in order to invest in women-owned entrepreneurs across a range of sectors,” the statement read in part. 

Standard Bank Group head of global markets and strategic partnerships Lindeka Dzedze said through the creation of sustainable jobs, empowered women can increase Africa’s economic output.

She said this is within small-scale businesses that will significantly grow the continent.

“Gender equity is both a fundamental right and a business requirement that is recognised universally,” Dzedze said.

“Having a partnership with Visa will immensely impact African Women Impact Fund on increasing gender equality.”

Last year, Visa announced a grant to the AWIF as an extension of the She’s Next program.

Founded in 2020, this is a global advocacy programme that solely advocates for women-owned enterprises with the necessary resources and opportunities.

The Visa grant has expanded to the  Sub-Saharan African women who lead and own businesses as they build, sustain and become more progressive in their businesses.

The funding programme seeks to ensure that the beneficiaries will be empowered, mentored, and will gain resources and tools. 

It will also ensure that they receive networking opportunities and connections that will be profitable to their upcoming micro businesses.  

Visa senior VP and head of Sub-Saharan Africa Aida Diarra said women entrepreneurs can now pay attention to their upcoming hustle with no worries. 

This, she said, is due to the incurring costs and short-term debts that are unavoidable when coming up with a successful establishment.

“With the funds, the She’s Next program's end goal will be achieved by better presentation of women in the business world thus putting an end to marginalization,” Diarra added.

Women fund managers in Africa continue to face numerous challenges in building sustainable businesses.

Research shows that this includes a slow-going process that barely acknowledges and includes them due to the policies that bring unequal value and favouritism coming from investors.

In a bid to reduce the current gender gaps, African women account for just 7.6 per cent of private equity.

Women-led businesses receive only seven per cent of private equity and venture capital in emerging markets. 

“Less than 1.3 per cent of $ 69.1 trillion (Sh9.4 quadrillion) global financial assets is only possessed by women and people of colour,” the statement said. 

Altree Capital Kenya CEO Jenni Chamberlain is the investment manager of Altree Kadzi Gender Climate Fund, one of the selected fund managers. 

Chamberlain said the Altree Kadzi Fund will utilise the grant to invest in women-led and women-oriented companies, that drives sustainability and climate adaptation as well as mitigation strategies.  

She also said women-led businesses are an important yet overlooked sector of the economy.

“These companies are growing rapidly and access to finance will improve their growth trajectory exponentially,” Chamberlain said. 

“Altree aims to prove the ability of these companies to produce strong returns for female entrepreneurs and investors alike.”

Chamberlain added that even though women are most affected by climate change, they are early adopters of climate mitigation as well as adaptation technologies and solutions.

“Women are also strong benefit multipliers,” she added.

Chamberlain noted that supporting women-led and oriented firms empowers women, ensures climate action, and will transform economies and societies.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star