Ecobank’s Ellevate initiative removing financial barries for women

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Ecobank Tanzania, a mem­ber of the Pan-African Banking Group, Ecobank Group, is one of the country’s largest finan­cial powerhouses that embrac­es women’s empowerment.

The time has come for wom­en to hold their heads high as they steadfastly move to beat the monsters of injustice and inequalities.

Nothing you assign them, and they will not do it as effi­ciently as men, if they do not go above and beyond. And that’s from top senior positions, man­agers to technical personnel.

It is no small feat to see them break barriers, squaring up to tens of thousands of male-dom­inated occupations.

As most emerging econo­mies, including Tanzania, grap­ple with the insurmountable challenge of inequality, some dedicated firms have made sig­nificant strides in this area, and they live by the accord.

Ecobank Tanzania, a mem­ber of the Pan-African Banking Group, Ecobank Group, is one of the country’s largest finan­cial powerhouses that embrac­es women’s empowerment.

Last year, Ecobank Tanza­nia launched its flagship wom­en’s programme, “Ellevate”, to empower and support wom­en-led and/or women-focused businesses with the financial and value-added solutions that will help them reach their full potential and succeed.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for about 90% of all businesses in Africa, and women own about a third of all registered Afri­can SMEs. Indeed, one-in-four (25.9%) of adult women in Afri­ca start or manage a business.

However, women have not enjoyed equal access to high-quality, demand-driv­en financial services, and it is estimated that women-owned SMEs face a US $42 billion financing gap, making lack of access to financing a common constraint to their business growth.

Charles Asiedu, Managing Director Ecobank Tanzania said: “The growth of women-led and women-focused businesses has been long hampered by a range of impediments, includ­ing access to finance.

“We have specially designed Ellevate to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs through the provision of com­prehensive, customized, and tailor-made solutions, which include favorable lending rates, smart cash management ena­blement, and a suite of val­ue-added services such as lead­ership training, mentoring, and networking opportunities.”

Ecobank Commercial Bank­ing is allocating a minimum of 10% of its loan portfolio to women’s businesses.

Women-led businesses are a largely underserved mar­ket, and Ecobank Tanzania is determined to help them reach their potential, grasp business opportunities, and become both scalable and sustainable. This will enable them to play a major role in Africa’s social and economic development, in addition to creating millions of jobs needed by this and future generations of Tanzanians.

Reuben Mwatosya, Ecobank Tanzania’s Head of business said, “I believe our impact as a Bank will grow deeper into our communities when we work with women at the forefront of change and development. Across Africa we have several partners whom we work with to further our impact offering financial and non-financial business support, therefore I call upon other partners in Tan­zania who would like work with us via Ellevate program as we accelerate the impact through women focused and women led businesses.”

Ellevate by Ecobank has two main benefits: providing finan­cial and non-financial services to customers. In terms of finan­cial benefits, there is the avail­ability of low-interest loans, which are based on the size of the business, a special woman’s account that enables them to earn up to 10 percent interest, and other common products offered by the bank,” says Reu­ben.

Ecobank Tanzania’s Head of Small and Medium Enterpris­es (SMEs), Juma Hamisi, says Ellevate targets women-owned businesses, women-run busi­nesses, businesses that have a board of directors with more than 50% female members, businesses in which more than 50% of employees are women and businesses that sell wom­en’s products and services.

He says in terms of non-fi­nancial benefits of Ellevate is to facilitates the implementa­tion of various activities such as capacity building, financial management training, facilitat­ing beneficiaries’ meetings and giving them the opportunity to discuss various business mat­ters, building a business and market network and educat­ing them on the importance of insurance in a business.

Mr. Hamisi hinted that since its launch in Tanzania, Ellevate has reached 60 entrepreneurs and businesswomen, and the goal is to ensure they reach 160 by the end of this year.

Explaining why they are proud of the program, Hamisi explained that “We are proud to raise awareness of our cus­tomers who are Ellevate bene­ficiaries because the goal was to change the mindset of women entrepreneurs in order to help women reach their full poten­tial by empowering and sup­porting them financially and non-financially.”

Ellevate by Ecobank brief

The Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African banking group, has won two awards for its Ellevate Programme. The Financial Alliance for Wom­en honored Ecobank with its “Impact Award,” recognizing Ecobank’s work in supporting women-owned and women-fo­cused businesses across the continent. Ellevate by Ecobank also won the ‘Best New Product Launch of the Year’ award at the Middle East & Africa Retail Banking Innovation Awards.

In addition to these, The Digital Banker recognized Eco­bank with the “Excellence in SME Banking” award at its cer­emony.

Josephine Anan-Ankomah, Ecobank Group Executive, Commercial Banking, said: “Elevate by Ecobank for wom­en-owned, led or focused busi­nesses is scaling new heights in meeting the needs of these tra­ditionally underserved entre­preneurs who have so much to offer to Africa’s commercial and economic development.

To win three awards in just one-month highlights Eco­bank’s successful positioning as the pan-African bank for SMEs through our comprehensive suite of dedicated solutions. These awards further consoli­date our recent recognition as the “African SME Bank of the Year 2021” in the African Bank­er Awards.

“The African continent is one of the highest in terms of women entrepreneurs globally, with one in four women start­ing or managing a business. Ecobank’s specially designed Ellevate programme facilitates women’s businesses’ innova­tion and success by providing them with tailor-made relevant financial and non-financial solutions to meet their evolv­ing needs. These include col­lateral-lite funding; smart cash management; increased access to markets through the devel­opment of an online presence in partnership with Google My Business; leadership training programmes; and networking opportunities.

Since its launch in Novem­ber 2020, Ellevate has board­ed thousands of new women’s businesses, advanced loans worth US $52.5 million, and attracted deposits of US $125 million.

Other recent initiatives implemented by Ecobank to support SMEs include:

• Training Program for MSMEs Financing in Collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD

• Collaborating with the African Development Bank on Green Climate Fund AFAWA, increas­ing finance access and capacity building for 400 women’s MSMEs in agri­business, financing 14 years of climate resilient activities

• The Ecobank ecommerce solution will facilitate the delivery of a dedicated and unique online store, enabling SME customers to expand their access to markets by selling their products and services online; and

• Partnering with Micro­soft on the Global Skill­ing Initiative to train, skill, and equip SMEs across sub-Saharan Afri­ca with the vital skills and knowledge necessary to leverage digital tools and achieve their business goals in this increasingly digital world.

About the Middle East & Afri­ca Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2021

The Digital Banker’s Middle East & Africa Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2021 honor and celebrate the Middle East and Africa’s preeminent retail banking institutions and their distinguished individuals’ con­tributions to the industry. The awards are accolades of excel­lence and distinction, attribut­ed to outstanding players, and aim to be unbiased, objective benchmarks for the industry.

They exist to celebrate the world’s most cutting-edge retail banks, SME banks, and wealth management units that are pioneering unrivaled stand­ards and capabilities-those that are transforming the industry by setting new milestones in service delivery, digital inno­vation, product development, payments, technology, custom­er experience, and more.


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