The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it is exploring partnerships with local commercial banks in Malawi to roll out the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (Aawa) initiative.
Aawa is an innovative partnership platform to leverage $3 billion (about K2.1 trillion) for women-owned enterprises in Africa to address the financing gap that exists with respect to women’s access to finance. It is expected to come into effect in 2017.
Speaking in an interview in Lilongwe last week, AfDB resident representative Andrew Mwaba said commercial banks can play a crucial role in enhancing support to women and women’s groups.
Without disclosing how much Malawi will access from the initiative, he said all countries in Africa, including Malawi, are eligible.
Said Mwaba: “A discussion on inclusive access to finance will not be complete without a call to enhancing support to women and women’s groups in business, agriculture and other productive sectors. At the AfDB we are making good progress on the affirmative finance action for women. We will be looking to the private sector finance institutions such as CDHIB to partner with AfDB to deliver on this important initiative.”
He said the fact that banks such as CDH Investment Bank (CDHIB) are expanding at a time the economy is not doing very well, shows that the country’s financial sector has a brighter future.
“It is pleasing to note that despite the recent challenges facing the global and regional economies, CDHIB remains committed to the growth through expansion of channels and product innovation.
“Although the bank has been in existence for almost five years, it now has three branches and one agency.”
Mwaba said this on the sidelines of the opening of CDHIB Capital City Banking Centre in Lilongwe.
In his remarks, CDHIB chief executive officer Misheck Esau said they will approach AfDB to see how they can access finance to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and women.
“We are excited with the products that AfDB is offering and we will be approaching them because we also mobilise resources both locally and internationally to help investors,” he said.
CDHIB board of directors chairperson Franklin Kennedy said the bank takes a long-term view; hence, its decision to open more new branches.
“Even though there are ups and down in business, we have to grow and we are happy with the support we are getting from our customers. The business environment is competitive and we need to add value for customers to get better services,” he said. n