Africa: Title – Finally, a Spark of Hope in Women’s Financial Inclusion

The Graça Machel Trust was established in 2010 as a Pan-African advocacy organisation that tackles structural barriers to change the way public and private institutions address women and children’s rights. The Trust’s work is underpinned by the conviction that the development of the African continent hinges on I) the sustained and equitable participation of women in socio-economic spheres at all levels and II) Africa’s human capital lies in its children who need to be holistically nurtured to build a strong foundation for them to thrive to become active and engaged citizens in the continent’s development. We have a footprint across 17 countries through our women’s networks and are headquartered in Johannesburg, with a satellite presence in Nairobi.

We have implemented our flagship entrepreneurs’ development programme, Women Creating Wealth (WCW), since 2016. WCW is a capacity-building initiative that uses a growth mindset approach to transform and strengthen women entrepreneurs’ skills and confidence to scale their businesses. The programme also enhances entrepreneurs’ readiness and facilitates access to finance and markets. We first developed WCW in recognition of the reality that women’s entrepreneurship is increasing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world, and yet, most women-owned businesses rarely grow into larger profitable companies. We believe that women’s entrepreneurship as a pathway to Africa’s development has not been effectively harnessed at scale.

While addressing the demand barriers of women entrepreneurs, the Trust also engages on the supply side through evidence-based research advocacy with the entrepreneurs to support the case for structural reforms. Our approach gives entrepreneurs voice and agency to be part of the change they want to see. WCW currently have 430 graduates from Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.

The AFDB-AFAWA partnership seeks to facilitate processes and supportive interventions to enable WCW entrepreneurs to access funding to grow their businesses in the next two years in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa. Our target is for at least 20% of the WCW graduates to get appropriate financing for their needs and stage of business.

Due to the challenging nature of raising funding for women entrepreneurs, we will take both country and regional level approaches to crowd in knowledge, experience, and expertise from the four countries and beyond. We will work with our networks, entrepreneurs and technical specialists, including the Trust’s gender lens investment and network building teams, to develop effective business advisory services, coaching and mentorship; and celebrate and give visibility to the successes that emerge. We will work with financial institutions to better understand and know the financing ecosystem and how we can close the gender financing gap by working together.

We value the support of the AFDB AFAWA team and look forward to the learning and financing opportunities our partnership will open up for women entrepreneurs.

This article was featured in the African Development Bank Newsletter “Voices of Citizens in Africa” on 05th July 2022. The publication of the Newsletter under the theme Women Economic Empowerment reminds us all, of the significant role of women in African economies. In a few years, Africa has become the world’s leading region in terms of women’s entrepreneurship. Read more in the issue


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