The Bank of Industry says it is currently collaborating with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on the launch and implementation of the 300 million dollars Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).
Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, BoI, made this known at the Bank’s webinar themed: “Recognising Women’s Leadership In Enhancing Nigeria’s COVID-19 Recovery” to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Pitan said the AFAWA fund was expected to unlock three billion dollars in private sector financing to empower female entrepreneurs through capacity building development.
He added that the fund would grant women access to finance as well as spearhead legal policy and regulatory reforms to support enterprises led by women.
Pitan said that the bank was also partnering with Islamic Development Bank to implement the Business Resilience Assistance for Value-adding Enterprise (BRAVE) Women Nigeria project.
“BRAVE Nigeria is part of a larger 32.2 million dollars five-year initiative coordinated by the Islamic Development Bank.
“The project combines training and grant-matching to support the growth and resilience of women-led enterprises in spite of their challenging operating environment.
“Furthermore, BOI invested 10 million dollars in the Alitheia Fund, also toward supporting Nigerian women-led businesses, some of which will be export-oriented.
“In addition, the Nigerian Content Intervention (NCI) Fund, a partnership between the BOI and Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has allocated 20 million dollars as an intervention fund to women businesses in the oil and gas sector.
“These are just a few of the initiatives the Bank of Industry is engaged in to promote female gender equality, especially as it relates to business financing and support.
“We believe that our support to female entrepreneurship will not only revitalise their businesses during this pandemic, but will enable them to thrive beyond it and close the inequality gap.
“BOI remains committed in our drive to support women; and I encourage other organisations to do the same, because when women win, the society wins,” he said.
The BoI managing director said that the International Women Day (IWD) theme: “Choose To Challenge”, highlighted the importance of challenging biases, stereotypes and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world.
He said that establishment of the bank’s gender business desk, which catered specifically for female entrepreneurs had successfully disbursed close to N100 billion to over 1,500 women-led enterprises.
“In addition to financial support, the gender desk also provides much needed business advisory and capacity building services, leveraging our strategic partnerships with more than 300 Business Development Service Providers (BDSP) nationwide.
“It is believed that if Nigeria enhances gender equality in the labour market, politics, legal system, education and healthcare, it could add 1.25 per cent points to the economy.
“Despite what we know now, the representation of women at decision making level is still minimal as today.
“There are only 25 countries that have elected women as Heads of State or Government – just about 11 per cent of all countries and territories in the world.
“Beyond participation in the political space, representation of women in the corporate sphere is very much skewed as only eight per cent of Fortune 500 companies are led by females.
“Yes, it is safe to say that we have made progress over the years, yet, it is far from acceptable and insufficient to meet the Sustainable Development Goal Five to ‘Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls’.
“The female gender have also been marginalised when it comes to access to finance.
“The gender financing gap in Africa is believed to be 42 billion dollars between men and women.
“This is a worrisome statistic and at the Bank of Industry, we continue to take deliberate steps to address issues around gender equality in entrepreneurship,” he said. (NAN)