AfDB invites business enablers to apply for funding to support women entrepreneurs

AfDB invites business enablers to apply for funding to support women entrepreneurs

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched a call for proposals for projects enhancing the viability of sustainability of women entrepreneurship enablers.

With this announcement, women business associations, incubators, accelerators and cooperatives that are working to promote women entrepreneurship in Africa can apply for funding innovative projects or programs to improve the skills of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) owned and run by women across Africa.

According to the AfDB, they are launching this initiative because entrepreneurship enablers such as business associations and civil society organizations play an important role in empowering women to establish bankable SMEs and other businesses.

However, the enablers themselves often face challenges, such as long-term growth plans and lack of financing, which reduce their reach, impact and sustainability.

Expatiating on the importance of the program, Vanessa Moungar, the Director for Gender, Women, and Civil Society said, “This call for proposals is an opportunity for direct and concrete support for women entrepreneurship enablers to scale up their growth and impact, and advance women’s financial inclusion on the continent,”

This initiative was launched by the AfDB through the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative (AFAWA), which offers a multidimensional approach to remove the constraints women entrepreneurs face in Africa.

AFAWA aims to unlock up to $5 billion of financing for Women Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs) by leveraging the Bank’s financial traditional instruments (lines of credit, trade finance, and equity funds) and through the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth (G4G), an innovative mechanism de-risking women entrepreneurs and enhancing Financial Institutions’ (FIs) appetite in lending to WSMEs.

These financial mechanisms are supported by technical assistance to financial institutions and WSMEs to ensure that adequate products and services are developed to address women’s financial needs, as well as adequate knowledge to build bankable and sustainable projects.


Through the proposed interventions, the enablers must show increased access to finance, skills, and mentorship, demonstrating the following:

  • Track record in supporting women SMEs;
  • Innovation and strong development impact;
  • Mobilization of additional funding;
  • Partnership with both public and private sectors;
  • Additionality and value for money;
  • Long term plan and sustainability;
  • Collaboration between two or several applicant enablers.


Submitted proposals must:

  • Demonstrate innovative approaches to build a supportive ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship aimed at improving access to finance for WSMEs;
  • Develop innovative ways to disseminate advisory services addressing capacity constraints, skills enhancement, and digital presences for WSMEs;
  • Enhance visibility and access to mentorship and role models for WSMEs.


The Bank will assess applicants’ track record in supporting women SMEs, innovation, and strong development impact, as well as their capacity to mobilize other sources of funding. Eligible organizations may request funding of between $100,000 and $250,000, provided through the Bank’s Gender Equality Trust Fund.


Though all countries will be considered, however, preference will be given to proposals implemented in these countries: Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republique of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zambia.

How to apply

Proposals (Not more than 10 pages) either in English or French should be submitted using the attached template via email to the following e-mail address: Benard Chitunga: Senior Officer- Partnerships, Donors and Special Projects, AFAWA and copy Esther Dassanou: Manager, AFAWA.


Call for Proposals closes on Sunday, May 30, 2021, and should follow the format given Awards will be announced on July 15, 2021. Selection of beneficiaries will be done following the Bank’s policies, rules, and procedures.