Nigeria: African Women Unite On Financial, Economic Empowerment
By Nurudeen Oyewole and Nahimah Ajikanle-Nurudeen, Daily Trust
Lagos — African women under the aegis of New Faces, New Voices have resolved to ensure financial and economic empowerment for the less privileged among the women folks.
This was of part the resolutions arrived at in the second biennial summit in Lagos.
Addressing a group of journalists on some of the resolutions, Graca Machel, founder, New Faces, New Voices, said because of the enormous challenges confronting African women, it has become expedient that economic and financial empowerments are made accessible to them so that they can on their own confront the challenges.
“We have chosen to focus particularly on economic and financial empowerment for the women folk because we know that there is a low financial service for them. We are aware that many of these women are willing to go into entrepreneurship but have been incapacitated with lack of funds that can help them flourish their ideas,” Machel said.
Machel, wife of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, said there are many other challenges facing the women folk and this she listed to include lack of education, poverty, discrimination and inability to own fixed assets that can be used as collaterals while seeking for loans from banks.
She noted that in an effort to make financial services available to the affected segment of women, the New Faces, New Voices initiative has put in place what is termed “match making business” which is geared towards bringing the women and bank officials to dialogue table.
According to Machel, when they were brought to the table, the bank officials were made to have first hand experience of some of the challenges confronting women in accessing loans while the women were also made to understand requirements that need to be met before such funds are made available to them.
She said: “Through this measure, we have been able to secure increase lending rate assurances from a number of financial institutions. Some of these institutions include African Development Bank and a number of South African banks.
“For instance, the Standard Bank in South Africa set a target of 20 percent increment rate in lending to women but surprisingly when they looked at their record, they discovered that they have indeed surpassed the target they set for themselves.”
Speaking on the modality for implementing the group’s planned programme of actions, Machel said efforts have been put in place using the local coordinating groups of New Faces New Voices in the respective 15 countries where it has already opened its chapters.