EAC & The HornNews

Absa opens UK market doors for women entrepreneurs

The synergy between financial institutions and women-led SMEs is vital in establishing thriving business ties with major market destinations such as the United Kingdom (UK). This collaboration not only fosters the growth of individual businesses but also contributes significantly to the economic growth of African economies.

The Absa InspireMe Conference, a forum organized in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC), serves as a prime example of how targeted initiatives can drive the success of women-led enterprises and subsequently enhance countries’ GDP.

The trade mission to Nairobi, organized on the sidelines of the Absa InspireMe Conference, aimed to create new business linkages and expand economic opportunities for women-led businesses from Africa and the United Kingdom (UK).

“This trade mission presents a unique opportunity to build strong relationships within this exciting market, the region, and the UK. At Absa, we are committed to facilitating access and providing valuable insights for our customers, both new and existing, across the globe,” Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director and CEO Abdi Mohamed noted.

“I look forward to meeting with women entrepreneurs from across the continent and securing long-term business. This is a rare opportunity to have seven countries in one location, I am sure this will be the start of strengthening relations between the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the participating SheTrades Hubs host institutions,” said Dr. Nasir Awan, President of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and Industry.

This event, part of the ITC SheTrades Comonwealth+ Programme funded by UK International Development, brought together 65 women entrepreneurs from SheTrades Hubs across Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, The Gambia, and South Africa.

By facilitating direct interactions between these entrepreneurs and potential buyers from the UK and African SMEs, the initiative provided a platform for women-led businesses to showcase their products and services.

This direct access is critical for businesses looking to expand beyond local markets and tap into the vast EU market, which offers numerous opportunities for growth and development.

Empowering women through financial support

Access to finance remains one of the biggest barriers for women-led enterprises. Recognizing this, Absa Bank Kenya has committed Kes100 billion over the next three years to support women entrepreneurs across various value chains.

This financial support is designed to unlock opportunities for these businesses, providing them with the necessary capital to scale their operations, improve product quality, and meet international market standards.

Moreover, the Absa InspireMe Conference included sessions on accessing finance, navigating the digital marketplace, and leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area.

These insightful sessions equipped women entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools needed to successfully engage in international trade, thereby enhancing their competitiveness in the global market.

Read also: Absa Bank’s growth strategy yields 34% net profit rise

Building sustainable business networks

The collaboration between financiers such as Absa Bank Kenya and women-led SMEs extends beyond financial support to include mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to information.

The conference facilitated one-on-one business meetings between women entrepreneurs and potential buyers, fostering the development of long-term business relationships.

Additionally, representatives from the bodies engaged in discussions with SheTrades Hubs to explore further collaboration opportunities.

These networks are vital for women-led businesses as they offer continuous support, guidance, and market insights that are essential for sustaining growth and competitiveness. The presence of high-level speakers such as the UK Regional Trade Advisor for East Africa and other industry experts underscored the importance of building strong, sustainable business networks.

Accelerating economic growth

The positive impact of such initiatives on African economies cannot be overstated. By empowering women entrepreneurs and facilitating their access to international markets, these collaborations contribute to job creation, income generation, and overall economic growth.

Women-led businesses are known to reinvest a significant portion of their earnings back into their communities, leading to improved social and economic outcomes.

For instance, the emphasis on sectors such as agrifood, textiles, and apparel during the conference highlights the potential for these industries to drive economic development. By supporting women entrepreneurs in these sectors, the initiative not only promotes gender equality but leverages the untapped potential of women in driving economic growth in Kenya and across Africa.

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