African Development Bank’s AFAWA initiative asks business enablers to apply for second round of funding to support Africa’s women-led businesses


The African Development Bank Group’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative is launching its second call for proposals for the Women Entrepreneurship Enablers program, targeting women’s business associations, incubators, accelerators, women-led cooperatives, and civil society organizations that promote the development of women entrepreneurs on the continent.

AFAWA is offering grants of up to $250,000 to organizations helping prepare African women-led businesses to drive the continent’s economies.

The program supports projects that enhance the viability and sustainability of formal women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and enables them to access financing opportunities to grow their businesses.

Successful proposals will demonstrate innovative approaches to building a supportive ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship, aimed at improving access to finance for women SMEs. Enablers are expected to develop a comprehensive and sustainable capacity-building program to enable access to finance in partnership with financial institutions.

Applicants from all 54 African countries are welcomed, and organizations in the Sahel region and North Africa are strongly encouraged to submit a proposal. Eligible organizations may request one-time funding of between $100,000 and $250,000, which will be provided through the Bank’s Gender Equality Trust Fund.

“Our first call for Women Entrepreneurship Enablers proposals drew nearly a thousand applications from organizations doing some groundbreaking work to equip women with the tools to expand their businesses,” said Malado Kaba, the Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society

“Today, we are excited to pursue this initiative by bringing in a second cohort and funding the development of their capacity building activities allowing women entrepreneurs to obtain significant financing and scale,” she said.

“Entrepreneurship enablers play an important role in bolstering the skills of women to establish ‘bankable’ SMEs. However, the enablers themselves often face challenges, such as viable long-term growth plans and lack of financing, which reduce their reach, impact, and sustainability” said Esther Dassanou, AFAWA’s Manager.

Following the first call for proposals, issued in May 2021, AFAWA selected ten pan-African organizations with demonstrated success in mobilizing finance for women entrepreneurs. They are: AECF(link is external) (Kenya); Seedstars(link is external) (Tanzania); African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum(link is external) (South Africa); Graça Machel Trust(link is external) (South Africa); Entreprenarium(link is external) (Rwanda); Women in Africa (WIA) Initiative(link is external) (Nigeria); Transformational Business Network(link is external) (Kenya and Uganda); Creative SpaceNG(link is external) (Nigeria); E4Impact(link is external) (Kenya); and PAWA Africa(link is external) (South Africa).

Source: AFDB