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The Second Women in Finance Event

By Renata Makhoul | Wed Apr 04 2018
On March 21s, 2018, RENEW co-hosted the second Women in Finance event in partnership with Enat Bank, an Ethiopian Bank focused on the vision of leveraging women's economic capabilities. This session focused on developing financial products for women, in an effort to promote gender equality within the Ethiopian financial market.
The speaker for the discussion was Abeba Tesfai who is Director of Women's Financial Services & Marketing at Enat Bank, and has been collaborating with RENEW for a few years as a Resource Provider, referring women-led businesses to be considered for equity investment. Abeba has been with Enat Bank for nearly three years in her current role, focusing on the bank's program policies, and creating partnerships focused on women's economic empowerment. Abeba is Ethiopian, grew up in Sudan and moved to the US where she completed her undergraduate studies and her master's degree in Business Management at Stayer University. For over a decade, she worked for Bank of America, then, Freddie Mac and Treliant Advisors. She is a seasoned finance professional who decided to return to her home country after so many years to share her expertise and her passion for promoting financial inclusion and to have an effective impact.
Most of the participants in the series were women CFOs and business woman, and a good part of the discussion centered on sharing advice on how to feel confident and empowered as financial professionals and when interacting with financial institutions.
Abeba presented interesting insights on her experience in banking in Ethiopia to start off the discussion on "Developing Financial Products for women as an effective tool to promote gender equality". Most of the discussion was centered on how to make banking more attractive for women in Ethiopia. Abeba shared her perspective about her work at Enat, how they are focused on servicing SMEs and how they are working to provide easier access to financial resources for those without formal collateral (land, etc.).
Abeba also shared data from the latest Women's Entrepreneurship Report, which stated that Africa produces more women entrepreneurs than any other region in the world. The regional average for female entrepreneurial activity rate as percentage of the female population aged 16 to 64 is 18% in Africa, in Latin America and Caribbean it's 17% and North America is 12% (*).
During the Q&A, a point was made that some Ethiopian women are more afraid to inquire about financial information than their male counterparts. When going to banks for loans, one of the main challenges Ethiopian women face is lack of collateral - usually in the form of land - as land deeds are often made in the husband's name.
In addition, Abeba shared a very interesting story that really made me reflect on the impact of that night event. Through their work at Enat Bank, they have discovered that women of the local Gurage ethnic group were advocating for women land ownership rights as far back as the 1500's in Ethiopia. This history led Enat Bank to name one of their branches of the bank in the group's honor.
This story made me reflect as a woman, as a finance professional and on my day to day work with entrepreneurs at RENEW and how important it is to encourage each other and be persistent. It is certainly very challenging to raise funding for a small or medium enterprise in Ethiopia, and especially as a women entrepreneur. An interesting report produced through the Entrepreneurship Database Program, led by a consortium of organizations (**) mapped the performance of a large sample of new ventures all over the world, that have attended an Acceleration Program. They have identified that women owned/led businesses on average perform better in terms of revenues and growth, than men led business, but are half as likely to report capital raised (equity and debt) when compared to men led business.
These meetings, roundtables and forums are designed to create a space for women in finance, such as CFOs, business leaders and women bankers to share our stories, challenges, successes but most importantly to encourage each other to move our organizations in a path towards gender equality.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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