Angelique Kidjo hopes to close financing gap for African women - GulfToday

Angelique Kidjo hopes to close financing gap for African women


Angelique Kidjo at "REFUGEE" photography exhibit/AP

Benin-born Angelique Kidjo, one of Africa’s iconic singer is lending her voice for a project that is working on rewriting laws that limit African women’s ability to obtain financial power.

For Kidjo, seeing her grandmother use closet as a bank is boosting her tenacity of seeing African women overcome the obstacles involved in acquiring credit.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Kidjo described what she has seen over decades of travel in Africa during which women in vibrant marketplaces wished they had the means to do more.

Every time credit is refused to African women, who invest some 90% of what they earn in educating their children and supporting families and communities as opposed to about 40% for men, it’s a disaster, Kidjo said.

"We’re taking up reducing the poverty rate in Africa to the smallest number ever. That’s my passion. That’s why I’m here.”

Kidjo will be helping the African Development Bank launch Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA). The bank will be providing $1billion that will be used across 54 countries for the project.

The goal is to raise $5 billion for efforts that include helping to guarantee loans, training women on financial matters and eliminating laws and regulations that make accessing credit more difficult.

African women face a $42 billion financing gap even though one in four starts or manages a business, the highest percentage in the world, the bank says.

In some African countries, women can’t open a bank account without their husband or father, or inheritance laws leave them with little or nothing. That means no collateral.

However, thing are changing in some parts of Africa. According to 2018 World Bank’s latest Women, Business and Law report. 32% of reforms in sub-Saharan African countries addressed equal treatment for women and men in accessing credit and financial services. Angola, Congo and Zambia joined others in prohibiting gender-based credit discrimination.

"Look, women are one of the most powerful forces of nature on this continent,” said Vanessa Moungar, the African Development Bank’s Chadian-French director of gender, women and civil society. "If they can be economically empowered, transformation will be fast-tracked like we’ve never seen.”

Women across Africa have told her they don’t want charity, the singer said. They know how to make money but aren’t given the chance to try.

She recalled women in Ghana who resorted to digging a hole in the ground to stash their earnings because they didn’t have bank accounts. And during a visit to Benin last month, one woman told her that to obtain a loan of 5,000 CFA ($8) she had to show a property deed and hand over 100,000 CFA as collateral.

Such experiences have helped to inspire another new program, the $100 million U.S.-run Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative fund with projects in 22 countries in Africa and elsewhere. They include Morocco, where women are benefiting from new laws that allow them to own land.

Associated Press



Related articles