Women entrepreneurs in Zambia often face significant challenges in accessing finance and markets for their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These challenges include limited access to capital, lack of business skills, and limited market opportunities. However, an initiative called the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) Zambia, a World Bank commissioned program being implemented by Kudu Consulting, is working to address these challenges and empower women entrepreneurs in the country.
We-Fi Zambia is part of the global Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), which was launched in 2017 by the World Bank and other partners to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries. The initiative is funded by a $375 million grant from the governments of Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom, as well as other donors world-wide. We-Fi Zambia was launched in July 2022, with the goal is to empower 1,000 women-led SMEs in Zambia during the first phase of the project.
Since its launch, We-Fi Zambia has made significant impact in empowering women entrepreneurs in the country. Over 635 women-led SMEs have received training and support from the program, which has included business skills training, networking, mentoring, and access to affordable finance. The program’s success so far demonstrates the potential of targeted interventions to address the unique challenges that women entrepreneurs face.
One of the key focus areas of We-Fi Zambia is to help women entrepreneurs access finance. This can be a major challenge in Zambia, where women often face significant limitations in accessing credit and other financial services. We-Fi Zambia has partnered with local financial institutions to increase access to finance for women-led SMEs, including through loan guarantees and other financial products tailored to the needs of women entrepreneurs.
In addition to improving access to finance, We-Fi Zambia is also working to help women entrepreneurs access domestic markets. The program is working to connect women-led SMEs with buyers and other market opportunities, including through trade fairs and other events. This can help women entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and increase their revenues.
Another important focus area of We-Fi Zambia is to improve the enabling environment for women entrepreneurs in the country. This includes promoting policy reforms that support gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. By advocating for policy changes, We-Fi Zambia is helping to create a more supportive environment for women entrepreneurs to thrive.
Overall, We-Fi Zambia is making a significant contribution to women entrepreneurs in Zambia by promoting women’s economic empowerment. The program’s success so far demonstrates the importance of targeted interventions to address the specific business challenges that women entrepreneurs face. By providing training, networking, mentoring, access to finance, and market opportunities, We-Fi Zambia is unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs to be drivers of economic growth and development in the country.
In conclusion, We-Fi Zambia is a promising initiative that is making a significant contribution to promote a more gender inclusive environment for economic advancement. By providing training, mentoring, access to finance, and market opportunities, the program is helping women entrepreneurs to overcome the unique challenges they face and realize their full potential. With continued investment and support, We-Fi Zambia can help to create a more equitable and prosperous future for women entrepreneurs in the country.