Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 31 October 2013 – IFC, a member of the World
Bank Group, is promoting increased participation of women in Africa’s
private sector, helping them overcome long-standing barriers that prevent
them from starting businesses or gaining employment opportunities open
to their male counterparts.
As part of this effort, IFC hosted an Africa Gender Forum in Addis Ababa
that brought together more than 50 women leaders, IFC clients, members
of civil society, and development partners to discuss best practices and
challenges to scaling successful approaches. Discussions also focused on
ways to increase access to training and finance for women entrepreneurs,
who own or partially own only about one third of Africa’s smaller businesses.
“Women's economic empowerment is essential to achieving sustainable economic
growth and poverty reduction. When women entrepreneurs are supported with
loans and new skills, they are able to turn their ideas into small and
medium-sized businesses that generate economic benefits for their families
and communities. An investment in women is an investment in the community,”
said David Usher, Canadian Ambassador to Ethiopia.
“IFC recognizes the need to tap the vast potential of women as drivers
of inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity, and has made gender
one of its cross-cutting strategic priorities. We need to support and harness
the positive effect that women’s economic empowerment and leadership can
have on our economy,” said Adamou Labara, IFC Resident Representative
A recently-published IFC report, ‘Investing in Women’s Employment –
Good for Business, Good for Development’, found that investing in women’s
employment and improved working conditions can bring dramatic benefits
to both women and businesses. IFC also runs a number of programs that promote
increased participation of women in business, including Women in Business
which has helped over 3,000 African women entrepreneurs gain access to
$27.5 million in financing.
During the Gender Forum, several women spoke of how they or their employers
are helping women gain a foothold in the private sector.
One female business owner, Constance Swaniker, explained how she benefited
from a collateral lending system IFC helped establish in Ghana. She said
that the registry allowed her to use her machinery to access finance, which
helped her create 50 new jobs.
Brenda Achieng, Legal and HR Director of Finlays Kenya, a horticulture
company, highlighted Finlays strategic approach to promoting greater gender
equality among its employees. Finlays achieved cultural change in the workplace
by developing clear policies, training for supervisors, vocational health
and safety training and support from senior management.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development
institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private
enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise,
and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.
In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion,
leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the
world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit