Mrs Audrey Abakah, Head of Small and Medium Enterprises Banking, Absa Ghana Limited, has advised startups and young entrepreneurs in the country to explore other sources to fund their businesses aside debt financing.
She indicated that most startups did not have the capacity to borrow and meet their debt obligations from commercial banks.
“Quite a number of them are at their infant stages and are not investment ready and are unable to meet basic credit requirements,”she said.
Mrs Abakah said this at a panel discussion on how women in trade, especially those in the informal sector, could seize opportunities in the rollout of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The programme on the theme: “Hand in Hand with Africa Investment Opportunities under the AfCFTA,” was organized by the AfCFTA Policy Network.
She said, it was therefore prudent to explore other funding opportunities available within the market. Options such as crowd funding, support from family and friends, venture capital funding, partnership finance, Angel investment among others, she said could be considered.
“Startups should take advantage of the free banking services, mentoring and capacity building opportunities offered by Absa to prepare and position their businesses for financial support”
She indicated that there was a gender financing gap estimated at 1.7 trillion dollars at the global level and 42 billion dollars at Sub-Saharan Africa level, according to a World Bank report.
She highlighted some of the key drivers of the gap as women’s risk averse and fear of borrowing, their sensitivity to price and collateral constraints.
Mrs Abakah encouraged women entrepreneurs and traders to take advantage of the Absa/Mastercard Young Africa Works programme which sought to finance 5000 SMEs and build their capacity for the next five years to strengthen and scale their business operations.
According to her, the programme offered free business development services by seasoned consultants an opportunity business owners should embrace.
Ms Joyce Williams, Executive Director, Women of Africa Network, said the contributions of women, especially those in the informal sector, were important to achieve the objectives of AfCFTA.
She said they formed a critical sector of the continent’s trade sector, hence they needed to be equipped to access the opportunities the trade agreement offered.
“It is very critical to create a level field for women needs in the AfCFTA, since they formed a large proportion of traders on the continent,” she reiterated.