50 Million Women Speak Project Launched, to Serve 38 African Countries

Microfinance in Kenya

The 50 Million African Women Speak Project is contributing to the economic and social empowerment of women across 38 African countries

A digital platform aimed at improving women’s ability to access financial and non-financial information has been launched.

The platform, known as 50 Million African Women Speak, was unveiled during the Global Gender Summit taking place in the Rwandan capital. 

It primarily seeks to help economically empower women by providing a one-stop shop for a wide range of financial and non-financial services that women need to start and grow successful businesses.

The project worth $13.2 million is an initiative of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), the East African and Southern Africa Common Market (COMESA), and the Eastern African Community (EAC).

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It will allow women in 38 African countries to find information on running businesses, accessing financial services, create business opportunities online and access training resources, ultimately contributing to their economic empowerment.

“I certainly believe that the creation of this platform is a very practical way of speaking to the general agenda of empowering women. I think a lot has been said and now we have come to a stage where we have practical initiatives such as this one,” said COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe.

“Sixty-five percent of the traded commodities in the East Africa region come from agriculture—a sector that employs 80% of women. This platform will help this big part of our population to expand markets and get new opportunities,” said Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, EAC Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors.

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The platform comes at a time when Sub-Saharan Africa hosts close to 13 million formal and informal small and medium-sized enterprises with one or more women owners. Yet, only 16-20% of women entrepreneurs are able to access long-term financing from formal financial institutions to scale up their businesses.

In addition, with a financing gap for women entrepreneurs across business value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa estimated at $42 billion by the African Development Bank, the 50 Million African Women Speak platform stands out as a unique solution to provide information on available financial products specifically designed with women entrepreneurs in mind.