UGANDA – Ecobank, a leading pan-African bank, has announced the launch of a revamped Ellevate program focused on giving women-owned businesses; businesses with a high percentage of female employees or board members or businesses making products for women, access to a variety of specialty tools and resources needed to thrive and prosper.
The Ellevate Programme is a membership offering that provides a specialist suite of services designed to reduce barriers faced by women in business, through a three-tier approach, namely, smarter cash management and collections, favourable lending rates as well as empowerment through leadership training, support and development.
Speaking at the launch event held at Mestil Hotel in Kampala, Ecobank Uganda Managing Director Grace Muliisa said that the relaunch of the Ellevate Women Empowerment Programme was informed by recent studies by the World Bank (2021) that among others showed that women business owners in Uganda faced several gender-specific barriers to their enterprise performance.
These, include lower levels of innovation, lower use of capital and labour, and segregation into lower-value sectors yet they make up 38.2% of the overall business ownership in Uganda―impressively the highest in Africa.
“At Ecobank, we believe that with the right tools and resources we can not only increase the number of female-owned businesses but also support the growth, sustainability and resilience of the existing ones,” Muliisa said.
The programmes relaunch is in line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme #BreakTheBias which seeks to support efforts geared towards breaking boundaries by encouraging women to step into previously unfamiliar territories of business.
“On top of all that, we know how hard it can be to run a business-especially a female-owned one-which is why we’re here to offer support and development with business promotion via Google My Business, networking opportunities with experts in the field, and leadership training to help you develop your skills and keep your company growing in the right direction,” she concluded.
Zemzem Bank opens first female-only branch
Meanwhile in Ethiopia, starting interest-free banking, Zemzem Bank opened its first female-only branch. It also launched new women’s interest-free banking services.
Melika Bedru, President of the Bank, said the bank is working to increase women’s participation and economic empowerment.
He announced the opening of a women’s section called Hajra, which will change the family, country and society.
To this end, Madika is introducing new Wadihi Savings Accounts and Zemzem Women’s Mudareba Savings and Investment Accounts to enhance the savings and economic benefits of women.
According to the bank, the majority of the shareholders who bought the bank’s shares were women.
In particular, she is said to be the first female CEO of the Bank. Currently, 33 percent of the bank’s employees are women, and one-third of them are in various positions.
The branch was inaugurated and opened by Minister of Women and Social Affairs, Ergego Tesfaye (Dr). He said the bank will enable women to be economically empowered and fulfill their responsibilities.