African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF): Empowering women leadership

Taking into consideration the role played by women in the modern era to write a success story that valorises the concept of gender neutrality and sustainable order, the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement and other international organisations have taken substantial measures. One is the formation of the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) that is extensively oriented in nature to help the women of Africa to come to the forefront breaking the mundane shackles of leading a second-class citizens life.

As part of the partnership between the UN Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and Standard Bank Group, the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) will provide opportunities as well as capital to both first time and experienced fund managers that invest in majority female-owned businesses. The partnership was signed on February 9, 2020, in Addis Ababa at the side-lines of the 33rd Summit of the African Union. It has committed to raise a total of $100-million.

The signing of a partnership agreement between the UNECA and Standard Bank Group represented by the UNECA Executive Secretary Dr. Vera Songwe and Sola David-Borha, the bank’s Chief Executive for African Regions also witnessed the presence of several high-profile dignitaries including UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and others.

The African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) has a transformational potential as it will significantly aid the women across the African continent in breaking down the structural barriers that have by far bared several international organisations from investing in the continent.

Originally, the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) was conceptualized in June 2019 and since then has been raising funds for businesses that are owned by such African women who because of several societal stigmas have been at the receiving end of numerous biases and bottlenecks. In Africa, many of the businesses that are owned by female entrepreneurs have to struggle quite immensely because of lack of successful fundraising, insufficient exposure to systems and procedures, and lack of track records. Having no prior experience in the field of business adds to the difficulties of the African women who are stepping out of the domestic and professional arena of physical labour to put to utility their entrepreneurial skills.

The African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) is a commitment that upholds the ethics of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Gender Equality) and Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). It also adds to the African Union Agenda 2063. As part of the initiative, the women fund managers will receive a deployment of capital that they could successively utilize in investing in businesses that that owned by female entrepreneurs.

Keeping in mind the multi-faceted use of the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF), the African Union has kept the sectors to be funded with the same, quite diverse. But so as to promote the ideals of sustainability, that the Non-Aligned Movement have always promoted, the AWLF will give priority to sectors like education, manufacturing, healthcare, clean energy and agriculture. The African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) aims not only to provide monetary assistance to the women entrepreneurs but will also provide technical assistance ranging from capacity building, direct mentoring to leveraging technology in health and education, for both the fund managers as well as the entrepreneurs.

Several African countries head have made their contribution to the fund and several other nations outside the African continent have committed to the purpose alike. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Senegal’s President Macky Sall each pledged $500 000. South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa also pledged to contribute to the fund. In order to boost the ideals of gender parity, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged $10-million to the African Union, while Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg has pledged $8-million. The much-heralded African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) will serve to be a game changer by putting the women on the other side of the chain of the support network. When examined on the curve of money, women have generally been on the demand side. With the game-changing African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) as expressed in the views of Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, women can now be shifted from the demand side to the money supply side, thus providing them with a new sense of power and strength to transform their lives in particular and lives of women in general.

The African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) aims at empowering Africa’s women by giving them access to financial resources and investment management expertise. It lives to the commitments of the
Non-Aligned Movement in its vision and practice.

Photo Credit : AWLNetwork

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