The African Women Impact Fund Initiative (AWIF), a partnership between Standard Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), has chosen three women fund managers from Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa to receive Visa’s award financing.
The chosen winners are SME.NG (Nigeria), Altree money (Kenya), and Maia Capital (South Africa). They will use the funding for their needs in warehousing money to invest in women-owned enterprises across several sectors. The She’s Next program, a global advocacy program for women-owned businesses that has been expanded to Sub-Saharan Africa, was extended last year when Visa announced a grant to the African Women’s Initiative Fund (AWIF) in order to further champion and strengthen African women business owners as they develop, maintain, and grow their enterprises.
“We are pleased to include fund management in our efforts to support female entrepreneurs. Building sustainable businesses continues to present several difficulties for African women fund managers. They are still making poor progress because of institutional obstacles and investor bias. According to Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President & Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa, “Our collaboration with AWIF will accelerate the multiplier effect of funding across the entire value chain where women-owned businesses exist.”
Building sustainable businesses continues to present several difficulties for African women fund managers. Due to institutional impediments and investor bias, research indicates that progress in increasing the visibility and involvement of women fund managers is going slowly. With African women accounting for just 7.6% of private equity and women-led businesses receiving only 7% of Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) in emerging markets, this highlights the opportunities that exist to reduce the current gender gaps.
“When you invest in women, you also invest in their communities. Investments that go into the hands of women fund managers not only go towards the growth and sustainability of the companies they invest in, but the women who are part of the value chain of these companies. We are proud to have selected managers who have demonstrated their ability to support the growth and development of their communities, and through the grant these managers will now be in a better position to scale up their efforts and impact the lives of many more women-led businesses,” says Lindeka Dzedze. Global Markets Head of Strategic Partnership at Standard Bank Group.
The AWIF Initiative’s appointed investment manager, Riscura, oversaw the selection of the grant beneficiaries through a due diligence procedure. The stringent selection criteria were in line with the goals of AWIF and Visa’s She’s Next program, which are, respectively, to encourage and grow women fund managers and make it easier for women-owned businesses to succeed.
One of the chosen fund managers is Jenni Chamberlain, CEO of Altree Capital Kenya and the Altree Kadzi Gender Climate Fund’s investment manager. The Fund makes investments in sub-Saharan Africa while using a gender- and climate-smart approach, with a focus on East Africa.
According to her, when considering an investment, “We have four investment pillars that we focus on, namely, women entrepreneurs, women in leadership (the business must have 30% or more of women in management or on the board), employers of women (over 30% women in employment), and/or products & services that will improve the lives of women.
With the money, the Altree Kadzi Gender Climate Fund will support sustainability, climate adaption, and mitigation initiatives by making investments in businesses with a focus on women’s issues and led by women. With a deliberate focus on women and the environment, Altree will support businesses throughout the whole investment value chain, ensuring sustainability and mainstreaming gender equity.
“There are numerous barriers to African women accessing finance for their businesses; women-led businesses are an important yet overlooked sector of the economy. These companies are growing rapidly and access to finance will improve their growth trajectory exponentially. Altree will prove the ability of these companies to produce strong returns for the female entrepreneurs and investors alike. Not only are women most affected by climate change but women are early adopters of climate mitigation and adaptation technologies and solutions, as well as strong benefit multipliers. Supporting women-led and oriented firms empowers women, ensures climate action, and will transform economies and societies” Ms Chamberlain adds.