The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched SheInvest, a €1bn initiative aimed at supporting the economic empowerment of women.
The programme, which aims to support women in Africa in gaining access to finance, will be informed by the criteria set in the 2X Challenge, an EIB-endorsed initiative promoting gender equality in the financial sector. In addition to supporting projects headed by women through gender-focused lending, investment mobilised through the SheInvest programme will be allocated towards sustainable infrastructure and climate financing, with a specific view towards how these factors affect women. In recognition of women’s role in combating climate change and the ways in which women are disproportionately affected by the climate emergency, for example, SheInvest funding will target ‘gender responsive’ projects such as facilitating women’s access to clean water and sustainable public transport provision.
The SheInvest initiative will focus its efforts on investing in digital innovation, as well as providing financial products and services designed to support women who would not usually have access to finance; with the goal of shoring up women’s economic opportunities and social inclusion. The EIB also intends to provide a dedicated technical assistance service, offering female entrepreneurs capacity building support and mentoring in order to enable them to better access financial services. The programme is expected to support millions of women across Africa in participating in the labour market and achieving economic empowerment.
Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice-President in charge of development operations, said: “Unlocking the potential of women is key to boosting Africa’s economic growth. In several African countries many women still lack access to basic services and are excluded from the financial and labour markets, making them unable to contribute fully to their continent’s development. As the bank of the European Union, we are committed to deliver on gender equality and are proud to be backing this important mission through the new SheInvest initiative.”