Botswana: Uneca, Bank Urge Women to Apply for Leadership Fund

Gaborone — The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Standard Bank Group are calling on women fund managers across Africa to apply for the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF).

The fund will provide capital and expertise to successful candidates.

A press release from Stanbic Bank Botswana says the AWLF initiative has been established with the aim of uplifting female-owned and managed asset management firms and providing a defined economic stimulus to achieve sustainable economic growth in Africa.

"The fund, the first of its kind, aims to raise up to US$1 billion over 10 years for women fund managers, who in turn will invest in high-impact businesses and projects across the continent, thus driving entrepreneurship," says the release.

It further says having already received some applications; the AWLF initiative is inviting more applications from established women-owned or women-managed funds that participate in listed markets and short-term private debt.

To register, applicants should visit www.standardbank.com.

While for any queries, applicants can email awlf@standardbank.co.za. Applications close at the end of June 2020.

"Under this first phase of the AWLF initiative's implementation, funding will be allocated to asset managers across North, East, Southern and West Africa. Allocations will be made with a view to achieving the best possible regional and geographic diversification," states the media release.

Applicants must be female, reside in Africa or be willing to relocate to Africa and need to have proven fund-or asset-management experience. They will be subjected to an investment and operational due-diligence process that will need to be completed by the end of August 2020, with the first phase of the fund becoming fully operational in the fourth quarter of this year.

It further states that the second phase of the fund's launch will be announced at a later stage and investments will be made into women-owned or women-managed private equity funds, while the third phase will target first-time women fund managers through an Emerging Manager Seed Capital Programme.

"While the fund is sector-agnostic, it will have a preference towards high-impact sectors including manufacturing, education, healthcare, renewable energy and technology.

The AWLF initiative was established in response to the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8, which target gender equality, decent work, and economic growth," says the press release.

According to UN under-secretary general and executive secretary of UNECA, Dr Vera Songwe, the fund is one of the most transformative financial instruments to be implemented across Africa in recent years,"

Dr Songwe says it aims to reshape the chain of decision-making in the financing of women enterprises.

"In a strong demonstration of support for the initiative, several pledges have already been made, including from African and international partners," Dr Songwe said.

Meanwhile, chief executive of Africa regions at Standard Bank Group, Ms Sola David-Borha says, "We are proud to be part of establishing the AWLF initiative as this aligns to our goal of creating a gender-equal Africa. This initiative is aimed at uplifting communities and achieving sustainable economic growth across Africa."

To bring the partnership to life, the press release says Mobilising Institutional Investors to Develop Africa's Infrastructure (MIDA) advisors facilitated the union between UNECA and Standard Bank and will serve as lead advisor in the management of the structure, operation and allocations to managers across the continent.

MIDA chief executive officer, Mr Aymeric Saha says MIDA advisors have partnered with Standard Bank Group over the past three years to present a gateway into Africa for US institutional investors seeking opportunities on the continent.

"History has taught us that people are biased towards the status quo, and therefore disruptive and bold solutions are needed to break old barriers," says Mr Saha.

"That is precisely what this fund-to-fund approach is about, and we are very proud to be involved in shaping it, he says."

Source: BOPA

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