THE World Bank Group has launched an initiative aimed at assisting Women Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs) to overcome financial constraints stimulate growth and inspire more women to participate in the Zambian economy.
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) Pipeline Development Programme is a global initiative that supports women entrepreneurs scale-up their access to financial products and services while providing linkages opportunities within the domestic markets, among others.
The Zambia We-Fi programme would run until June 2023.
World Bank Zambia country manager Sahr Kpundeh said this at the launch of the programme in Lusaka recently.
“SMEs are the backbone of the economy and play a vital role in employment and wealth creation.
“SMEs in Zambia represent 70 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 88 per cent of employment and contribute 97 per cent of all businesses in the economy,” Dr Kpundeh said.
We-Fi Zambia supported formal women-led WSMEs with more than five employees for support under the Zambian project.
And Bank of Zambia (BoZ) deputy governor – administration, Rekha Mhango commended the launch of the projects as it would address the many challenges being faced by entrepreneurs across many sectors.
“As central bank, we are fully aware that this program will also further deepen the financial inclusion agenda. SMES continue to play a major role in economic development in many countries, including Zambia,” Ms Mhango said.
Under the We Fi Zambia Pipeline Development Program which is Phase two of the country programme, the objective was to reach at least 1,000 WSMEs in Lusaka and Kitwe through a combination of in-person and digital trainings while providing a virtual platform for other WSMEs around the country.
“We are delighted by this timely gesture by the World Bank Group and we strongly believe that this program has come at the right time as it resonates with my ministry’s mandate of growing and supporting the development of SMES in Zambia,” Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Minister, Elias Mubanga said.