European Investment Bank to invest in women owned and led businesses to support growth

AFRICA – The European Investment Bank has announced it is considering a US$17 million equity participation in the Women’s Development Business Equity Fund LP (WDB).

The proposed operation consists of an equity participation in the WDB focusing on investing in women owned or led companies. Generalist in terms of sector the Fund will support the growth of companies in Sub-Saharan Africa which are compliant with the 2X Challenge criteria.

The proposed operation concerns a participation in WDB Equity Fund LP, a closed end private equity fund with a target size of about US$170m. The Fund will invest with a gender lens, supporting female entrepreneurs and companies addressing needs of African women.

The Fund will focus on companies in compliance with the 2X Challenge criteria, or make them compliant during the holding period. The Fund will invest in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with a focus on South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and to a lesser extent Ghana and Kenya.

The European Investment Bank is the lending arm of the European Union. We are the biggest multilateral financial institution in the world and one of the largest providers of climate finance.

It helps the economy, create jobs, promote equality and improve lives for EU citizens and for people in developing countries.

The EIB Group has two parts: the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund. The EIF specialises in finance for small businesses and mid-caps.

They have more than 60 years’ experience and expertise in project financing. Headquartered in Luxembourg, we have a network of local and regional offices in Europe and beyond.

On the surface, sub-Saharan Africa boasts the world’s highest rate of women entrepreneurs, at 27%. The MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2017 listed two African countries, Uganda (34.8%) and Botswana (34.6%), as having the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs globally.

But dig a little deeper and one will find that in many countries in Africa, most female-led enterprises are small businesses with little opportunity for growth. Also, female entrepreneurs are not evenly spread across the continent. Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia have disproportionately high numbers.

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