The African Development Bank Group, signed on January 27 in Dakar, a four million US dollar financing agreement with UN Women to support women entrepreneurs’ access to public procurement in West Africa.
The financing agreement – the largest ever signed by the Bank in favor of UN Women – falls within the framework of a flagship program of the institution, the Initiative to improve access to finance for women in Africa (AFAWA) in collaboration with the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).
The operation will support reform to improve access of women-led businesses to public procurement and the development of gender-responsive procurement initiatives, as part of inclusive post-Covid-19 recovery programs in Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
“The African Development Bank is extremely proud to have signed this project in partnership with UN Women through funding from the AFAWA initiative,” said Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, the Bank’s Managing Director for the East Africa region. We are committed to unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of women and seeing them grow. We are convinced that this high-impact project will provide great opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Senegal and in the region”.
The collaboration agreement was signed by Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade during a meeting held in Dakar. This signing took place in the presence of the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, on an official visit to Senegal (January 26-28), and the Senegalese Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation, Amadou Hott.
Public procurement accounts for a significant portion of global demand for goods and services – a multi-billion dollar industry accounting for 15-30% of global gross domestic product. However, women-owned businesses only have access to 1% of government procurement. In West Africa, women are underrepresented as entrepreneurs with access to public procurement. A UN Women study found that in Senegal, less than 10% of women entrepreneurs are aware of the existence of public procurement legislation aimed at increasing women’s engagement. Less than 5% said they were duly informed about the process and modes of public procurement.
Oulimata Sarr welcomed the strategic partnership between UN Women and the African Development Bank Group.
“This project comes at the right time because women entrepreneurs must be supported for recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Oulimata Sarr. The public and private sectors have a vital role to play in enabling women-owned businesses to access larger contracts. In addition to interventions in Nigeria, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, the project will work with regional institutions to address important continental policies that affect women entrepreneurs’ access to markets, such as implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The project aims to improve legislation and improve women’s capacity to access public tenders – ensuring that women are equipped with technical skills in order to access procurement opportunities. The project will also contribute to mitigating the impact of the health crisis by helping women-led small and medium-sized enterprises to improve their skills to manage their online activities, operate remotely and adjust their business models, including by exploring opportunities of innovation.
Under this project, UN Women will work with national procurement agencies, small and medium enterprise departments, as well as women entrepreneurs.
Source: African Development Bank