Independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank Group (Ecobank) has launched a women-centric empowerment program dubbed “Elevate”- designed to help women reach their full potential by empowering, growing and supporting their small enterprises with customized financial and value-added solutions across 33 markets, including Zimbabwe, 263Chat Business has learnt.
The initiative stems from the significant contribution women on the continent are offering into the African economy.
Research shows that 1 in 4 of the adult female population in Africa starts or manages a business, making the African continent one of the highest in terms of women entrepreneurs across the world.
“In developing Elevate, we made time to understand the needs of women, what they really require from their bankers, and came up with practical solutions that will help bridge the identified gaps. Elevate is an end-to-end comprehensive product suite that supports women-owned and women focused businesses with differentiated business solutions that will unleash their potential,” said Josephine Anan-Ankomah, Ecobank Group Executive, Commercial Banking.
Most women-owned business enterprises in Zimbabwe as well as on the African continent often battle to access financial products from banks for their growth due to lack of collateral as properties are often registered in their husbands’ names.
This has negatively affected growth on women-owned businesses.
“Elevate by Ecobank is designed for businesses owned by women, managed by women, businesses with a high percentage of female board members or employees and companies that manufacture products for women,”
“These businesses will benefit from smarter cash management solutions, favorable lending rates and value-added services such as leadership training and networking opportunities. All these will ensure that their businesses can scale and remain sustainable. We intend to allocate 10 percent of our Commercial Banking loan portfolio to help bridge the financing gap,” added Anan-Ankomah.
Ecobank has presence in 33 countries across Africa and the Elevate program is set to improve access women participation in respective countries.