Development Finance Climate Action & Green Transition Skills & Employment

African Women Rising Initiative

The purpose of the EIB project “African Women Rising Initiative” (AWRI) is to support women’s economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa by increasing access to finance and providing wider capacity building support to women entrepreneurs in selected countries. The project aims to (1) facilitate women entrepreneurs’ access to financial services through capacity building, mentoring, and networking activities, and to (2) provide support to existing or potential EIB financial intermediary (FI) clients in designing, establishing and actively promoting financial services better tailored to the needs of women entrepreneurs.
AWRI will thus bridge the gap between capacity building to women entrepreneurs and improving the supply of financial and non-financial services responding to their needs. It will also have wider positive effects on economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction. The achievement of the overall objective will in turn contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 on Gender Equality and SDG 8 on Economic Growth, and to the EIB Group Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment. IPC (lead), jointly with its partners CCX and African Management Institute were contracted to provide technical assistance to AWRI.

General project tasks

  • conducting comprehensive mapping of the current state of financial inclusion for women, of women’s entrepreneurship, and of women empowerment initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as of how innovations in financial technology, mobile banking and branchless banking are being harnessed to benefit women’s entrepreneurship
  • proposing and applying a selection mechanism for countries and FIs: shortlist 6-8 countries
  • conducting a stakeholder mapping, assessment and selection: international and locally-based organisations to partner with for capacity building
  • preparing a logical framework, monitoring framework with result indicators in line with the suggested AWRI strategy

Component 1: empowering women entrepreneurs

  • processing partner FIs’ applications to participate in AWRI
  • mapping and profiling capacity building/non-financial services focusing on a) sectors/industries, b) geographies within each country, and c) groups/segments of women entrepreneurs with interest and relevant profiles
  • conducting capacity needs assessment of women entrepreneurs
  • compiling results and proposing a methodology for the delivery of training, mentoring and networking activities
  • drafting a market research report on women entrepreneurs
  • defining entrepreneur selection criteria and support FIs and other women entrepreneurship forums (networking clubs, business associations etc.) in sourcing of women entrepreneurs
  • screening women entrepreneurs through completion of sample online course and/or application form
  • implementing training, networking and mentoring activities
  • establishing an entrepreneur online community with video courses, activities, case studies, downloadable tools
  • creating linkages to other initiatives/programmes and connect women entrepreneurs to them

Component 2: banking on change – the market development component

  • conducting institutional diagnostics of FIs
  • drafting information material on AWRI and women-MSME banking for the selected target countries incl. local language versions
  • reviewing institutional diagnostics to inform design of an “AWRI Peer Learning” mechanism
  • organising cross-sectoral outreach and engagement events
  • launch and running “AWRI Peer Learning”
  • selecting senior executives for external trainings
  • implementing specific external trainings for FI staff
  • setting up an expert support facility providing support to FIs i) wishing to develop new products that can better serve women entrepreneurs and/or ii) wishing to adapt existing products to better serve women entrepreneurs (e.g. marketing, segmentation, pricing, new delivery channels)


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