KENYA—African Guarantee Fund has signed a US$5.53 million risk-sharing partnership agreement with the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank PLC (KWFT) to boost financial inclusion for women-led or women-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya. 

The partnership will unlock up to KSh3 billion (US$22.9m) in financing for over 1000 Women SMEs in Kenya, addressing the significant financing gap faced by women entrepreneurs.

This partnership signifies a significant achievement in AGF and KWFT’s dedication to championing WSMEs and fostering inclusive economic development in East Africa. It will economically empower women entrepreneurs, create jobs, and contribute to the region’s growth.

One of our goals for this partnership is to prioritize capacity building that equips women entrepreneurs with the essential skills and knowledge needed to build sustainable businesses and access market opportunities that will drive Africa’s economic growth and development,” AGF Group CEO Jules Ngankam said.

The partnership is backed by the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, which aims to expand AGF’s reach in supporting women-led or owned businesses.

As the implementing partner of the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program, we are confident this collaboration will help us meet our goal of bridging the gender financing gap in Africa,” added Jules.

“Our partnership with KWFT will support women SMEs by unlocking financing and providing technical assistance, which are two key pillars of the AFAWA program.” 

The risk-sharing mechanism, will enable KWFT to increase its on-lending activities to WSMEs with a view of promoting enterprise growth in the Kenya. 

This loan portfolio guarantee will also support expansion of KWFT’s green initiatives that address climate change and contribute to job creation and sustainability, with a focus on driving sustainable inclusion and economic growth.

This collaboration with AGF marks a significant milestone in our journey towards empowering women entrepreneurs and enhancing financial inclusion in Kenya,” Mr. Kariuki Kitabu, KWFT MD, said, expressing his enthusiasm about the partnership.

“We are confident that this partnership will strengthen our operations and better serve our clientele, thereby contributing to women’s economic empowerment.”

AGF will additionally provide capacity development assistance to increase KWFT’s ability to recruit and appraise WSMEs, enhance its automation, train staff, and implement growth strategies to upscale the Bank’s WSMEs to reach their full potential.

With a financing gap of over US$49 billion impacting women SMEs in Africa, the partnership will address barriers such as limited access to information, collateral requirements, cultural biases, complex business processes, and the disproportionate impact of climate change on WSMEs.

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