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ICR Blog

Closing the gender gap in Senegal’s economy

Women make up most of the agricultural workforce in Senegal and many have ambitions to start or grow their own farming businesses. But lack of finance and traditional cultural norms are holding them back. A new initiative between the Union Nationale des Commerçants et Industriels du Sénégal (UNACOIS), finance partners and with the support of the ICR Facility has proved that targeted and timely support can transform their fortunes – and those of their country.

Promoting Business Environment Reform for Youth Entrepreneurship in the ACP Region

More than one-third of young people in the ACP region work as entrepreneurs. Women represent two out of every five early-stage entrepreneurs globally, and entrepreneurial activity among young women in ACP countries is high. However, young people's access to opportunities for developing their businesses is hampered, among other things, by poor policy and institutional conditions, lack of information on business support services, and lack of coordination and training among civil servants assisting them. This blogpost also invites readers to join our upcoming webinar to learn more about business environment reforms for youth entrepreneurship in ACP region on 16th May.

How a cluster development approach can transform Togo's sesame sector

With abundant natural and human resources, Togo has the potential to further capitalize on industries like sesame as a key driver for economic growth, job generation and women's economic empowerment. The Ministry of Investment Promotion and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Rural Development worked with the ICR Facility with the objective of implementing a cluster development approach for the sesame sector. The intervention included mapping of the sector, building a strategy using the cluster diamond method and developing an action plan to boost the competitiveness of the sector.

Women are crucial for the development of the sesame value chain in Togo

Women are currently undervalued in the agricultural sector. To change this, the ICR Facility is currently working with Togo’s Ministry of Investment Promotion and Ministry Agriculture of Togo to improve women's participation in the sesame value chain. As a part of this intervention, more than 50 interviews were conducted from September 2022 to January 2023 to evaluate the business environment in the sector and identify the main barriers women face that hinder their participation in the agricultural labour market.

Where do women stand in Rwanda’s Agroforestry value chains?

Most rural women in Rwanda do not have a prominent role in business ventures. They remain underrepresented in many agroforestry value chains and they face significant challenges in terms of accessing land, farm inputs, training and much more. To reduce these gaps, the government of Rwanda supports policies to increase gender equality and promote economic inclusion of women, putting Rwanda first place in the Sub-Saharan Africa regional ranking of the Global Gender Gap Index published annually by the World Economic Forum (2022).

Credit to women entrepreneurs - In the Dominican Republic, equal financial rights boosted women’s businesses

Women have long been economically disadvantaged in the Dominican Republic. Now, governmental programmes are promoting their financial inclusion and private banks make access to credits much easier for them. This improved the business environment for women and has prompted a wave of female entrepreneurship in the country.

Investing in women entrepreneurs in ACP countries: an opportunity awaits

Development finance institutions across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific can play an important role in supporting women entrepreneurs to realise their ambitions. A new analysis highlights a range of ideas to enable them to increase their activities to support this key market segment.
Claudine, street vendor in Kigali, Rwanda

Opportunities for Kigali’s Women Informal Workers

Official figures show that nearly half of all Kigali women of working-age were in work, compared to two thirds of men. Working women, however, face many challenges, including limited schooling and the need to combine paid work with child-care. The majority of women work informally without social protection or a regular income.

Protecting women from violence improves the business environment

In Papua New Guinea, two in three women experience violence in their lifetime. Since 2014, a forceful movement has developed within the business community to change the investment climate and prevent gender-based violence, offer support to victims, and create a safer working environment. As a result, companies now report fewer days of absence – a success for women, for PNG and for its public and private actors.

Tax incentives? New laws? Regulations? Policy makers and sector specialists explore effective ways to support the social economy in ACP countries

In Jamaica, the social economy has grown rapidly in the past decade. However, Charmaine Brimm of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, a government agency which manages policies for the country’s sustainable development, says that the sector has developed in a ‘highly informal and fragmented way.’

Access to loans will now be easier for women and youth farmers in Tanzania

The Tanzanian agriculture sector depends heavily on the contributions of women and young people. Many of them would like to invest in new machinery, in more land or to use better farming methods. But often they fail because they do not qualify for bank loans. The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank has set out to change this.

Promoting Innovative SME Finance in Caribbean and Pacific Islands

Many DFIs in the Pacific and the Caribbean strategically support local businesses in their launch, develop and growth phases, both with financial and non-financial means, but maintaining a balance between financial sustainability and achieving goals is not always easy. Empowering people to engage and raise their voice is the first step to change.

PPDs: a Solution for Economic Recovery in Botswana?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s life as well as the public and private sectors and continues to pose huge risks from a social and economic perspective as well as on financial systems and economic stability.

Ghana is set on a path for Green Jobs

Ghana wants better and more sustainable jobs across the country and is ready to invest more than USD 13 million to that end. But the to-do list is long. If the strategy succeeds, thousands could be lifted from precarious employment.

Arbitration services in the OHADA region and beyond - Exchange among peers for enhancement

Investments in African countries have grown at a steady pace over several years, some of which have triggered disputes that require inclusive and effective resolution services in an increasingly challenging business environment. Arbitrage is one such a commercial dispute resolution method.

Staying above Water – Challenges to Credit Risk Management in the Pacific

As with any organisation engaged in lending, the management of credit risk is a key factor for development banks, yet they additionally have to balance economic sustainability with development impact. To this end, a solid credit risk management is key for DFIs, which can be challenging.

Policies for eco-industrial parks in Africa

Multiple African countries seek to industrialise their economy through industrial parks. To ensure this will lead to positive development impacts, it is key that those parks are sustainable with regards to their economic, environmental, and social performance as well as the performance of the park management.

Raising and spending public revenues for climate change adaptation: the case for fiscal policy

The World Bank outlined how fiscal policies are an underused tool for aligning financial resources towards achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement. While we see numerous discussions about fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing and carbon revenues where are the discussions on using fiscal policy for climate change adaptation?

Not One Size Fits All: The Varying Needs of Social Enterprises and Inclusive Businesses

What might broadly be considered a social or inclusive enterprise in the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countrie, can take all sorts of business forms and models, notwithstanding variation in size, assets, growth trajectory, entrepreneurial culture, market access, social impact, etc. Given this diversity, it is important that impact investors and other providers of social finance have a more nuanced understanding of business features and needs when building their portfolios.

Business Council devises Southern Africa strategy

The Southern African Development Community’s Business Council (SADC BC) has developed its first ever five-year strategy and action plan with support from the ICR Facility. One of the challenges of launching such an initiative is to ensure that it achieves its goal. This is even more relevant in the Covid-19 era, where the business outlook may not be as positive and where businesses more than ever need to benefit from initiatives such as SADC BC.

Beating climate change: Why finance needs to flow to small entrepreneurs in the Pacific and Carribean

Entrepreneurs in the Caribbean and Pacific could help battle the ever more dramatic effects of climate change, but at the moment, there is little of the right kind of finance available to help these small businesses to take off. While billions of dollars of climate focused finance was flowing to the Pacific and the Caribbean, it wasn’t meeting the needs of social and green enterprises.

How can the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific accelerate their transition towards more climate resilient development?

Adapting to the consequences of global warming in ACP countries requires considerable investments in water management, flood protection, agriculture, healthcare, and infrastructure. Investment needs for this adaptation are enormous and it remains a challenge to unlock greater flows of finance towards climate resilient development. Development Financial Institutes and the private sector play an increasingly critical role here.

Financing Variety: A challenge for impact investors

Given the scale of social and environment challenges across African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, access to finance for social enterprises and inclusive businesses – well-placed to tackle many of these challenges – becomes a priority. However, this remains a huge challenge for most entrepreneurs. There is a need for more flexible capital types - especially models that provide smaller investments.

Resolving Insolvency in the Caribbean: A new study of potential gaps in insolvency regimes across the region

Financial failure of business enterprises is a fact of life in even the most prosperous and well-functioning economies. The economic environment in which all countries operate has evolved profoundly in recent times and the laws addressing financial failure need to be upgraded with modern tools to address the new realities of a changing global marketplace.

Reforming Credit Infrastructure in the Caribbean Region

As result of a collaboration between the ICR facility and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), we recently published a report which suggests specific solutions to strengthen credit infrastructure in the region. The report focuses on credit reporting and secured transactions systems. Credit reporting systems include credit bureaus and public registries, which publicize credit histories and allow for the assessment of financial risk, and the legal frameworks behind their correct functioning.

What are the challenges for the development of crowdfunding in ACP countries?

Crowdfunding is a strategic investment vehicle complementary to existing tools, especially for companies which lack credibility with traditional financiers, including MSMEs and start-ups. In ACP countries, crowdfunding offers a new avenue to raise capital, and can help address a variety of issues including geographical isolation, banking exclusion, the limited size of addressable capital, etc. There are, however, constraints to its development.

Loans on Honor: a comprehensive mechanism to foster development by supporting MSMEs

The Loans on Honor are an economic development financing mechanism with an increasing usage in Africa and a real opportunity in Caribbean and Pacific countries. Often only recognised for its financial component, the Loan of Honor is in essence a multidimensional solution that combines business support and financing and has the ability to adapt its operations to the local needs of each territory.

Responding to the adaptation finance gap in 2021: catalysing private actors in ACP countries

African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are highly vulnerable to climate change and have an urgent need to attract investment for climate change adaption and for building their economies’ resilience. This will require large-scale private sector resource mobilization, which currently faces critical challenges. But there are solutions how the international community can respond to these challenges.

Blended Finance – a powerful tool for DFIs

Blended finance as a tool has great importance in light of the current economic challenges and the cost of financing to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in ACP countries. Instruments include concessional debt or equity, guarantees and insurance, technical assistance support, project preparation and design-stage grants as well as results-based financing. All these subjects were discussed with DFIs during a training session.