UN agency to set up African Women Leadership Fund

The UN Economic Commission for Africa is planning to set up the African Women Leadership Fund to help speed up the growth of women-led businesses around the Continent.

This was indicated by ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe in Nouakchott, Mauritania, at a joint AU-EU High Level side event titled, ‘Women in Power’.

“Depending on the resources we raise, and with our target being five hundred million dollars, we will create a network of young women fund managers, train them for two years and put them out in the market,” she said.

The innovative Fund seeks to address the fundamental gap in the access of women to finance architecture. As such, it will seek to lower the hurdles of women-owned businesses, promote investments in micro enterprises and take women’s cooperatives to the next level.

The Fund complements the Africa Women’s Fund of the African Union, the Graça Machel Trust, and other similar mechanisms. It will focus on mobilizing global capital to build a cadre of African women fund managers who will, in turn, invest in and develop African women-led businesses and micro-businesses.

“We are hoping to have as many women running these funds as we have men”, said Ms Songwe.

The side event was held at the 31st Summit of the African Union Heads of State.

Present at the meeting was President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J Mohammed; and the Chairperson of the African Union, among other representatives of partner institutions and member states.

AWLF is an impact Fund that aims to strengthen economic empowerment of women through accelerating the growth of African women fund managers. The Fund is a result of a call by the African Women Leadership Network (AWLN) at their inaugural meeting in New York from 31 May to 2 June 2017.

The Fund has been established by the Economic Commission for Africa under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Chairperson of the African Union, with support from: UN-Women; Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the African Union Commission; and the African Women Leadership Network.