Why investments in women cannot be overemphasised- Ecobank
The Head of Consumer Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Korede Demola-Adeniyi, says investing in and developing women contribute to the development of the economic and human resources in Africa.
According to her, this is also important to adopting financial integration across the continent.
Demola-Adeniyi, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone as the world marks the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) on Wednesday, said that women should be supported to achieve gender parity in all spheres.
NAN reports that the IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
The United Nation’s theme for 2023 IWD is: ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.’
Demola-Adeniyi also stressed the need for empowerment and financial self-sufficiency for women.
“If you develop a woman, you develop the resources which is the human resources in Africa.
“This is important because you will be developing economically and also be working to adopt financial integration across the continent.
“ Women make the continent one of the highest in terms of women entrepreneurs across the world.
“Again, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for up to 90 percent of all businesses in Africa, and women own about a third of all these registered African SMEs.
“We have one in four female adults in Africa who manage or start a business.’’
To show the dedication toward empowering women and female-owned businesses, Demola-Adeniyi said that Ecobank had put in place offerings aimed at bridging the financing gap for African Women entrepreneurs.
“We have been able to use our flagship programme called Ellevate by Ecobank, dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs.
“We have also recorded success stories in this area in countries where we operate.
“The Ellevate by Ecobank is aimed to bridge the gap, the financing gap for African Women’s entrepreneurs, and what we aim to do is to up skill them to be more effective and efficient in running their businesses.
“And that makes us kind of different from other brands for women supporting women businesses.
“Also, under the Ellevate Equip, we have been able to build training and capacity platform for the Ellevate initiative. ‘’
According to her, success stories have been recorded in Sierra Leone, where a dynamic freight forwarding and delivery company, was initially supported with an Ellevate contract financing facility.
She said the organisation had also partnered with the Global Business School Network to organise a leadership programme for 35 of their top ellevate customers in 2022 with pioneering graduating class was actuall y made up of participants from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
“This was more in line with our African footprints.
“The participants benefited immensely from the world class faculty from the MIT global programme, INSEAD Africa Initiative and INSEAD Gender Initiative, the American University of Cairo School of Business, Stanford SEED and the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business’’
She said the bank had also successfully handled flagship MSME training financing programme for over 4,000 African MSMEs, 30 per cent being women, under part of the SME booster series.
In Kenya and Ghana, she said that Ecobank also supported women through their offerings.
In Nigeria, she said that projects had also been put in place to ensure that female customers had access to financial services.
“We have a KYC Light Account opening whereby a woman in the rural area can just use the phone and dial *326; automatically you have an account.
“So, it helps us to at least introduce them into the digital world and ensure that they can start banking from there,” she told NAN.
According to Demola-Adeniyi , since the launch of Ellevate, the organisation has dedicated at least 10 per cent of the commercial banking portfolio loan book to women.
“And since we launched Ellevate two years ago, we have on boarded over 50,000 customers.
“We have extended loans up to 188 million dollars and attracted deposits of 465 million dollars.’’
She also noted that the partnership between Ecobank Foundation and the UN Women’s Regional Office for Western and Central Africa, was also a laudable initiative to develop the continent.
“This established a framework for cooperation that would enable achievement of the common goals and accelerate the empowerment of women in Africa.
“Particularly, we’re going to be paying attention to the specific needs and challenges faced by women and women entrepreneurs in both the rural and the urban areas.
“And one of the specific things we have said is that we are going to work together to combat violence against women and girls, and also encourage women to take part in sports.
“ It is a partnership in the right direction and will also strengthen women empowerment.
“So, for us at Ecobank, it’s not only about one woman shining, it is a situation of when one woman shines, let several others shine at the same time,’’ she said. (NAN) www.nannews.ng
Edited by Vivian Ihechu