The International Trade Centre (ITC) and Absa Bank Zambia PLC announced a new partnership to expand banking services to more women in Zambia.
The partnership aligns ITC’s mission to support women-led enterprises with Absa Bank Zambia’s strategic imperative to nurture collaborations that benefit female entrepreneurs.
Absa Bank Zambia Managing Director Mizinga Melu and ITC Deputy Executive Director Dorothy Tembo formalized the partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
Zambia has made significant gains towards gender parity, ranking 45 out of 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report in 2020. Women make up 48% of the labour force. They own an estimated 42% of micro enterprises and 36% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
But women entrepreneurs still face distinct challenges that limit their businesses’ growth potential. Men are more likely than women to have banking services. Women tend to receive smaller bank loans than their male counterparts, and policies don’t always consider women’s needs.
The latest collaboration builds upon four years of work in the ITC SheTrades Zambia project. ITC has worked with key financial institutions to provide technical assistance to over 700 women-led businesses, generating over $3 million in trade opportunities and creating over 200 new jobs in the country.
Under this partnership, Absa Bank Zambia and ITC plan to improve the technical and financial knowledge of women entrepreneurs, including through networking opportunities and financial skills-building workshops.
Absa Bank Zambia has committed to deliberately disburse funds to eligible women-led businesses with the support of the SheTrades Zambia project. The Bank’s Women in Business proposition focuses unblocking barriers that limit women’s participation in economic activities through the provision of financial solutions, trade market opportunities and business development skills programmes.
“Advancing women’s economic empowerment is vital for sustainable development and growth,” said Mizinga Melu, Managing Director at Absa Bank Zambia.
“At Absa Bank Zambia, we recognize the importance of providing financial services to the underserved and underbanked, and we are intentional about driving gender inclusive growth by deepening our outreach to underserved women enterprises.”
“Through our Women in Business proposition under the theme Unleash, we focus on bridging the gender gap by providing financial and non-financial capabilities that help create economic opportunities for women led businesses. The partnership with the International Trade Centre is demonstration of commitment to support the growth of women led businesses through skill development trainings which will not only help women to become successful entrepreneurs but will ultimately help to elevate and support women led businesses to reach their full economic potential.”
Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, said: “Zambia holds one the highest proportions of women entrepreneurs on the African continent, yet the gender gap in financial inclusion remains. Globally, we are seeing more deliberate efforts in building a future with inclusive economies. Tailored financial and capacity building support are essential in advancing and expanding the development of women entrepreneurs. I am thrilled that under this MoU, we will support for the growth of women entrepreneurs and cross another milestone in building inclusive and fair economies.”