In less than three years, the SheInvest initiative of the European Investment Bank has raised €2 billion for gender-sensitive financing in Africa. Asia and Latin America are now part of the initiative’s goals and geographic reach, and the African Women Rising Initiative has made a new partnership with the Development Bank of Rwanda.

Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Thomas Stros made the announcement at the Finance in Common Summit in Abidjan that the Bank would be expanding its SheInvest initiative to mobilize an additional €2 billion of gender-responsive investment across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Since the launch of SheInvest at the end of 2019, the EIB, in collaboration with its partners on the continent and through Team Europe, has mobilized a total of €2 billion of investment to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment across Africa.

 “I am very proud of what the SheInvest initiative has achieved over the past three years. It has been a game changer in our EIB support for women-led enterprises across Africa. Combining this success with our track record of gender projects in Asia and Latin America as well — ranging from gender-responsive metro projects in India, to access to finance for women entrepreneurs in Brazil — it was a natural next step for us to not only raise the bar in monetary terms but also geographically expand this initiative.”, Stross noted.

In addition to SheInvest, the African Women Rising Initiative, a €2 million technical assistance program, helps women business owners in sub-Saharan Africa by bolstering their skills through mentoring and training and by assisting intermediaries in developing financial and non-financial services specifically for them.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) have signed a new cooperation agreement that will allow BRD to improve women’s access to finance and create specialized advisory services for female entrepreneurs operating micro, small, and medium-sized businesses in Rwanda. At the end of 2021, the two financial institutions will have jointly financed a €30 million long-term facility to aid businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Director of BRD Kampeta Sayinzoga said, “At BRD, we have a saying — ‘the best gift you can give a woman, is the gift of choice.’ We are eager to implement policies and a strategy that will give women-led businesses in Africa the gift of financial autonomy through the African Women Rising Initiative. Consequently, we are pleased to collaborate with the European Investment Bank to develop and provide financial services specifically for the needs of women in our region. Our plans for advancing women’s empowerment involve promoting gender parity and equity in the financial sector”

“I am delighted to strengthen our cooperation with the Development Bank of Rwanda to provide much-needed advisory and mentoring services to women entrepreneurs in the country,” Vice President stros said. “Stronger societies and greater development impact require investments with a focus on gender equality”.

To further advance women’s economic empowerment in Rwanda, the EIB and BRD will work together to define strategic objectives and key performance indicators to mainstream gender equality considerations in BRD’s lending and advisory activities.

The goal of the African Women Rising Initiative is to increase the economic independence of women in Uganda, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Rwanda by assisting local banks and microfinance institutions in developing and actively promoting gender-intelligent financial and non-financial products and services that are specifically tailored to the needs of women entrepreneurs.

SheInvest investments are based on the EIB’s 2X Challenge criteria, which are designed to multiply the impact of the bank’s money spent on promoting gender parity and women’s economic independence in poor countries. The G7 development finance institutions are among those who have given their stamp of approval to the 2X Challenge criteria. The EIB was the first MDB to sign up for the 2X Challenge and the Gender Finance Collaborative, two initiatives that promote gender equality in the development finance sector.


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