GENEVA – The International Trade Centre (ITC) and GroFin, a development finance company operating across Africa and the Middle East, have announced the launch of SheTrades Invest, an initiative to increase investment in women-owned businesses in 14 countries across the regions.
SheTrades Invest will help strengthen the financial and managerial capacity of women entrepreneurs, improve their investment readiness, and connect them to impact investors and financiers.
As part of this strategic alliance with the ITC, GroFin will deploy risk-impact capital into vetted and eligible small and growing businesses to create economic growth and jobs for women.
Businesses in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, and Oman are eligible to take part.
‘Women entrepreneurs have tremendous potential to be drivers of growth. Exactly one year on from the adoption of the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade by over 120 World Trade Organisation members and observers, we are pleased to partner with GroFin to launch SheTrades Invest. This demonstrates the ITC’s continued support to realising the commitments of this Declaration. We encourage investors to join the initiative to boost investment into women-owned businesses globally,’ said ITC Executive Director, Arancha González.
Unmet funding needs
Across the world, female entrepreneurs face substantial unmet funding needs. Women in developing countries in particular encounter numerous challenges in starting, growing and managing businesses. These include lack of access to finance, weak financial and management capacity, and lack of access to markets.
“Women are grossly underserved by the traditional financial sector and this has to be addressed urgently if we are to meaningfully empower women to contribute to economic development and job creation,” said GroFin CEO, Guido Boysen.
“GroFin sees this as an opportunity to generate both commercial and development returns for the benefit of all stakeholders. We are pleased to partner with the ITC on SheTrades Invests and believe it will allow us to increase our investments in women-owned or women-led businesses across our key high impact sectors of education, healthcare, agro-processing, manufacturing and key services.”
SheTrades Invest will leverage the large network of women entrepreneurs who are members of the SheTrades initiative, ITC’s flagship programme that aims to connect three million women-owned businesses to international markets by 2021.
The initiative also capitalizes on GroFin’s 14-year track record, making over 700 investments in small and growing businesses in the Middle East and in sub-Saharan Africa, and supported a total of nearly 90,000 jobs across these regions.