11 March, Abidjan. GroFin, a pioneering development finance institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East, is increasing its focus on developing women entrepreneurs. GroFin officially opened its doors in Ivory Coast in April 2016.
Guillaume Liby, Investment Executive at GroFin Ivory Coast, told media that women entrepreneurs in developing economies like Ivory Coast can play a powerful role in fostering economic growth and creating employment, but still face a wide range of challenges. “All entrepreneurs face challenges, but women can find it even harder to overcome hurdles such as a lack of access to appropriate finance and business skills. GroFin believes our business model of combining tailored finance and business support is therefore very well suited to developing women entrepreneurs.”
The IFC’s Enterprise Finance Gap Database shows that more than two-thirds of formal women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out by financial institutions or cannot find finance on the right terms. Liby says this gap needs to be addressed urgently. “GroFin’s extensive experience in working with women entrepreneurs has shown us that women tend to plough back their income toward improving the well-being of their families and communities. This means that ensuring the development of women-owned businesses can have a far-reaching impact on addressing critical issues such as poverty and unemployment.”
GroFin has invested $36.5 million (USD) in 119 women-owned businesses and 30% of jobs sustained by GroFin clients are held by women. In Ivory Coast, 25% of GroFin’s investments have been in women-owned businesses and a third of the businesses in its current portfolio are owned by women. GroFin’s investment in Ivory Coast has created a total of 254 jobs in the country, which includes 101 jobs for women.
GroFin’s first client in Ivory Coast was in ICODI, a woman-owned business specialising in mobile money services and the retail of phone recharge cards. “GroFin provided me with the financing to open to additional outlets and position my business much better amongst its peers. GroFin has become a trusted partner on my journey as a woman entrepreneur,” says Ndaw Zeinab Mariam, managing director and founder of ICODI.
Liby explains that GroFin also partners with organisations which focus specifically on women entrepreneurs to give its clients access to additional mentoring, networking opportunities and capacity building programmes.
GroFin is currently partnering with the International Trade Centre (ITC), in the SheTrades Invest initiative, which aims to increase investment in women-owned businesses in Ivory Coast and the other countries where Grofin operates. The initiative aims to connect three million women to market by 2021. In addition, GroFin also has a partnership with the Vital Voices Global Partnership which allows women leaders to participate in skill-building and network development efforts in economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.
This year GroFin is also hosting a range of capacity building workshops for female entrepreneurs in most of the countries where it has a presence. The first Ivory Coast workshop for women entrepreneurs is set to take place on 26 April and will focus on the importance of management accounts in operating a business. “GroFin is excited to share our knowledge and expertise with women entrepreneurs as we have seen first-hand what a big difference access to the right skills can make to the success of a small business,” Liby concludes.
GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.
Guillaume Liby, Investment Executive at GroFin Ivory Coast on +225 2251 5135 , or email Guillaume@grofin.com.