Ecobank launches finance programme for women entrepreneurs

The Chronicle

Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter

PAN-African banking group, Ecobank Zimbabwe, has launched a new product called Ellevate  aimed at facilitating financial support for women-led entrepreneurships.
The bank’s head of marketing, Mrs Enelesi Masaninga, said Ellevate seeks to ensure that women-led businesses have access to funding and are able to use multiple financial services as tools to develop their projects. The intervention will enable beneficiaries to contribute meaningfully to economic growth.
Ms Masaninga said access to formal financial services by women is instrumental in helping achieve gender equality and women empowerment.

“The empowerment of women cannot be achieved without ensuring their access and usage of appropriate financial products and services at affordable costs,” she said in a latest update.
“Women comprise 40 percent of the country’s workforce and constitute roughly half of the population. In addition, women’s educational achievement is also growing, ensuring that women will make up more and more of the professional workforce going forward.”

National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1)

Ecobank’s initiatives complement the Government’s National Development Strategy (NDS1:2021-2025) blueprint, which seeks to facilitate increased empowerment of women and enhance gender equality in the country.
Government has also established a number of funding structures including Women Micro-Finance Bank to assist budding businesses with a bias to empower women-led enterprises.
Mrs Masaninga, however, said for all their gains, women do not enjoy equal access to high-quality, demand-driven financial services.

“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for up to 90 percent of all businesses in Zimbabwe and women own about a third of all registered SMEs,” she said.
“One in four of the adult female population in Africa starts or manages a business, making the continent one of the highest in terms of women entrepreneurs across the world.”

The Ecobank official said women’s inability to usually provide strong or bankable business plans means financial institutions are not able to fully appreciate their business and why they require financing.
“They are seen as high risk because they cannot provide collateral and guarantees. A good number of women entrepreneurs are not able to articulate their dreams and what they need to achieve these dreams. All this has meant that they have limited access to finance,” she said.

“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for up to 90 percent of all businesses in Zimbabwe and women own about a third of all registered SMEs,” she said.

“In addition, some legal and regulatory frameworks hinder the full participation of women in business. Instances where they require authorisation from husbands or fathers to work or some bank requirements that expect husbands to co-sign loans, all affect entrepreneurship and their ability to grow their businesses.”
Ecobank said its Ellevate programme is designed for businesses owned by women, managed by women, businesses with a high percentage of female board members or employees and companies manufacturing products for women. — @SikhulekelaniM1

Article Source: The Chronicle

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