Affirmative Finance Action for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa (AFAWA)

Climate Objective
Sectors and Themes
Type of Support Provider
Type of Recipient
Private sector
Fund Size

$424 million

Co-financing Requirement
Trustee or Administrator
African Development Bank
Contact Information
Middle East and North Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa

AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) is a pan-African initiative to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa.

AFAWA adopts a holistic approach through three pillars.

  • AFAWA finance leverages the African Development Bank’s financial instruments and has two innovative solutions to drastically transform the banking and financial landscape in Africa and to create incentives for lending to women in business:
    • A $300 million risk-sharing instrument to unlock $3 billion in credit for women businesses and enterprises in Africa. This mechanism will build upon the existing network of commercial banks and microfinance institutions to create structural change and lasting impact for women.
    • A rating system to evaluate financial institutions based on the share and quality of their lending to women, and their socio-economic impact. Top institutions will be rewarded with preferential financing terms from the African Development Bank.
  • AFAWA technical assistance provides advisory services to financial institutions to ensure successful implementation of their product portfolios for women, and strengthens the capacity of women entrepreneurs through training to enhance business productivity and growth.
  • AFAWA enabling environment engages with African governments and other key stakeholders to support legal, policy and regulatory reforms and strike down the structural barriers impeding women in business.

Key highlights from the initiative include:

  • AFAWA finance: in 2018, the African Development Bank dedicated over $50 million in lines of credit to women through financial institutions such as Fidelity Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank. It also made an anchor investment of $12.5 million in Alitheia IDF Managers (AIM), the first-of-its-kind private equity fund managed by experienced female fund managers that invests in high-growth women-owned and -led SMEs in Africa. AIM aims to raise $100 million and targets ten countries in Southern and Western Africa.
  • AFAWA technical assistance: in 2018, AFAWA provided technical assistance to various banks and partnered with Entreprenarium Foundation to train 1,000 women entrepreneurs across the continent in business model development and financial planning.
  • AFAWA enabling environment: AFAWA engaged policy dialogue with central banks and government entities in various countries. In addition, the 50 Million African Women Speak digital platform is being developed to connect women entrepreneurs across the continent.
Purpose of Support
Strengthening enabling environments and stakeholder capacity
Funding Type
Loans (concessional and market-rate)
In-kind contributions
Eligibility Criteria
  • Funding will go to women entrepreneurs to enhance business owners and farmers' financial and business managerial skills
Eligible Countries

All countries in Africa.