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GroFin Nigeria supports women entrepreneurs to ‘step up and scale up’

GroFin Nigeria (Lagos) recently hosted nearly 90 women entrepreneurs at a capacity building workshop in Lagos. The event formed part of GroWoman, GroFin’s Gender Lens Investing Initiative, and focused on equipping women entrepreneurs in business planning and strategy. Women empowerment is one of GroFin’s core impact objectives.

GroFin hosted the event in partnership with Sheba Centre, a GroFin client and events management company. Omolara Adelusi, the owner of Sheba Centre, shared her entrepreneurial journey and encouraged other women entrepreneurs “to step up and scale up” their businesses.

Women entrepreneurs from various sectors including agro-processing, education, healthcare, retail, and manufacturing attended the event and were inspired by its theme of ‘Breaking the Myth’ around gender roles which assume that women cannot – or should not – venture into the business world.

Bisi Onim, executive director and COO at FundQuest Financial Services, and Tope Orolu, managing director at TIS Capital & Advisory, spoke on the role of a business plan in a thriving business. The speakers encouraged entrepreneurs to develop their business plans holistically.

The learning sessions included practical guides to business planning which some of the participants even described as an “abridged MBA”. Attendees also testified to have garnered more knowledge on sustaining their business, building a proper structure as well as implementing the right strategies for business growth.

“The facilitators made the business plan very easy to digest. I am going to run my business as a system and leverage on resources outside of my immediate environment. I will further develop my business plan and would love to have more information on subsequent events of this nature.” said one attendee.

GroFin’s mission is aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) through its focus on women–led businesses and women employment. GroFin has supported over 122 women-owned businesses and 30% of the jobs our investments sustain are held by women.

GroFin is partnering with the International Trade Centre (ITC) in SheTrades Invest, an initiative to increase investment in women-owned businesses in the countries where we operate. The SheTrades initiative aims to connect three million women to market by 2021. In addition, GroFin works with the Vital Voices Programme to help women entrepreneurs lead positive change in their communities. GroFin sponsored 12 clients for the VV GROW Fellowship, a highly competitive one-year accelerator program for women who own small or medium-sized businesses.

If you are a woman entrepreneur looking to grow your business, learn more about GroFin’s financing and business support. Or speak directly with a GroFin representative at one our local offices for more information.

GroFin Ivory Coast committed to supporting women entrepreneurs

Abidjan – GroFin is increasing its focus on developing women entrepreneurs. 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.

About GroFin

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.

Media enquiries:

Guillaume Liby, Investment Executive at GroFin Ivory Coast on +225 2251 5135 , or email [email protected]

What businesses can do to promote women empowerment in Africa

Eliminating gender inequality and empowering women could raise the productive potential of one billion Africans, delivering a huge boost to the continent’s development potential,” notes the African Development Bank on women empowerment.

In this context, businesses have a key role to play in advancing women’s economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In addition to their human rights obligations, companies are increasingly viewing women’s economic empowerment as a core part of their mission and values. Indeed, they have a business interest in ensuring that women employees, suppliers, distributors, and customers succeed – McKinsey Global Institute estimates that if women participated in the economy as equal counterparts to men, it would add as much as US$28 trillion to the annual global GDP by 2025.

Unfortunately, women in SSA face deeply rooted obstacles to achieving their potential at work. First, women in the workforce, regardless of industry, face many common challenges such as the need for additional education and training for career progression, a lack of female role models, the absence of good childcare options and decent maternity leave, and risks to their personal safety and security. Second, for women to be economically empowered, it will take much more than a job – there is an urgent need to go beyond to invest in the resources, opportunities, protections, and skills that women need to achieve their full potential and decide what they want to do with their lives. Third, to address systemic challenges, companies will need to partner locally and globally with a wide range of organisations, including local grassroots women’s organisations, development finance institutions, local governments, public health care providers, and industry peers.

Due to the above challenges, women in SSA achieve an average of 87 percent of male human development outcomes, thus impeding economic and social development in the region. Indeed, the United Nations estimates that gender inequality costs SSA an average of US$ 95 billion a year.

These insights form part of an in-depth report released this year by the US-based non-profit organisation, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). Titled ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Business Action’, the report outlines the role of businesses in boosting women empowerment in Africa.

BSR’s research reveals six practical areas where companies, regardless of industry, can make significant progress in advancing women’s economic empowerment in SAA. These areas include: building a gender-sensitive workplace with flexible work arrangementsto accommodate working parents, strengthen channels for women to express their concerns, and invest in quality childcare; providing leadership and advancement opportunities through fair and transparent promotion and recruitment processes, encouraging informal and formal leadership opportunities and supporting initiatives outside of the workplace such as women’s networking associations; strengthening education and training by sponsoring technical training and internships for young women, advocating for greater public investments and incentives to keep girls in school and encouraging their interest in STEM subjects; investing in policies and procedures to protect women from sexual harassment, creating secure channels to report incidents, and ensuring that such incidents are handled fairly and result in disciplinary action; providing opportunities for entrepreneurship and business linkages with transparent processes for securing business contracts, procurement policies prioritising women-owned businesses, and working more closely with local partners to ensure that women have the skills and resources to grow their businesses; and, building more inclusive communitiesby partnering with organisations that provide community services, supporting efforts to protect women’s, labour, and human rights and advocating for local governments to promote women’s economic empowerment.

Whilst much more remains to be done, the report acknowledges that the private sector already plays an important role for women in SSA by generating economic and other opportunities. Indeed, Africa, as a whole, has more women in executive committees, more women serving as CEO, and more women on company boards than the average worldwide. Despite this progress, women are still underrepresented at every level of the corporate ladder and are disproportionately affected by some of the negative impact of business.

In this context, supporting women-based businesses in SSA can go a long way towards promoting women empowerment and building inclusive communities. Women empowerment forms a core impact objective at GroFin, a development financier that focuses on small businesses across Africa and the Middle East in vital needs sectors such as education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services (water/energy/waste) to help entrepreneurs make a difference to their communities.

GroFin’s mission is aligned with the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’) through its emphasis on women-led businesses and female employment. In keeping with its focus on women empowerment, by close of 2016, GroFin had supported over 100 women-owned businesses and as many as 28,500 of the total jobs sustained (30%) in investee businesses were for female employees.

Women entrepreneurs such as Kenya’s Irene, whose brainchild GAEA Foods empowers farmers in the Rift Valley to supply quality potatoes to Nairobi’s competitive fast foods industry; Jordan’s Hiyam, whose school, English Talents, in turn empowers girls with the education and skills they need to succeed in a global economy; South Africa’s Rinawhose Zambesi Akademie is making a difference to more and more special needs children through the widened reach of its expanded premises; and Nigeria’s Latifat, whose Hatlab Ice Cream Delite has spawned multiple successful outlets across 3 cities and has now gone on to develop franchise management skills – GroFin’s finance and support has made a difference to women-owned businesses across Africa and the Middle East.

If you are an investor seeking to reach out to women entrepreneurs across Africa and the Middle East, we invite you to partner with us. GroFin’s proven expertise in supporting women-owned businesses, and its capacity to provide them with unprecedented access to finance, business development skills and market linkages, can help you to deepen your impact footprint.