Exim Bank Group through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program dubbed “Exim Cares” has launched a Women Empowerment Program (WEP) that seeks to promote inclusive economic development in countries where the bank operates including Tanzania, Comoros, Djibouti, and Uganda.
During the launch, the first cohort of 20 aspiring women entrepreneurs graduated and received certificates and cash prizes for the top performers.
The bank’s program takes shape of an ‘accelerator or incubator’ in which selected women-based startup companies and/or individual entrepreneurs will be helped to develop their businesses through a range of services including training, startup capital and financial facilities to kick start or scale up their businesses.
For Tanzania, the bank’s program aligns with the Tanzania Development Vision 2025 and the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050 and will be a catalyst in enhancing women’s socio-economic welfare.
Speaking during the launch of the WEP program in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Exim Bank Chief Executive Officer Jaffari Matundu said his bank is committed to increase the integration of sustainability into its business models and approaches to deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits for all its stakeholders.
Matundu said the bank’s WEP drive runs for 5 years and will have a multiplier effect benefiting more than 600,000 women by 2028.
“Our new program will closely involve the promotion of access to opportunities thus stimulating economic growth in the country,” Matundu said.
He said that women can be an engine of growth for Tanzania and other countries in Africa adding that empowering them to play a greater role in growing the economy can generate more and better livelihoods for people and families.
“As a bank, we believe that supporting women in the long term promotes economic development. And promoting inclusive economic development remains a priority to us.”
Matundu said women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship remain key pillars of development initiatives across Africa adding that of recent, there has been an increasing number of women that occupy leadership positions across political, social, and economic sectors.
“The translation of this into the overall empowerment of women still lacks partly because the initiatives and policies in concern to promote women to decision-making positions rarely address or transform the fundamental and systemic issues that led to the gap between women’s formal and actual power,” he stressed.
The Minister for Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups Dorothy Gwajima during the event commended Exim Bank for coming up with the initiative reiterating Government’s efforts to continue supporting women empowerment.
Gwajima citing findings of the recently released Finscope 2023 Survey noted that the formal financial inclusion gender gap in Tanzania has narrowed from 10% points in 2017 to 3% points in 2023 adding that a significant decrease in female exclusion from 30% in 2017 to 19.4% in 2023 needs to be noted.
She noted that the banking gender gap has remained more or less the same, with about 9%-point more men being banked compared to women.
“This indicates a less deepened financial service penetration among women than among men. The launch of Exim Bank’s WEP program has come timely and we believe it will be a catalyst in bridging the existing gender gaps,” she stressed.