The Trade Hub rolled out the second phase of the gender access to finance strategy in Côte d’Ivoire this October to build the financial acumen of women-owned small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) and facilitate financing for their businesses.
As part of the strategy, the Hub’s finance and investment team organized two three-day trainings for female business owners and a one-day training for officials of Coris Bank in Côte d’Ivoire, the Trade Hub’s partner bank.
In Abidjan, 27 female business owners from the area were given practical trainings in proper bookkeeping and financial management from October 2-4. Participants included producers, processors and exporters from various sectors, such as shea, cassava, cereals, fruits and vegetables, textiles, apparel and jewelry.
The second set of trainings took place in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire’s second largest city from October 9-11. The 23 business owners learned skills in understanding the finances of their businesses, keeping business records and calculating costs, managing cash flow and developing a business plan, as well as how to qualify for a bank loan. These producers, processors, traders and exporters in the cashew, cotton, mango, cereals and other food crop sectors came from Bouaké, Boundiali, Dabakala, Daloa, Korhogo, and Yamoussoukro.
“The sessions, which were very participatory and interactive, were aimed at giving participants a solid understanding of the financial requirements of their businesses and equipping them with the tools to enable them make strategic use of financial instruments, such as loans and investments,” said Ms. Kafui Djonou, Business Development Specialist at the Trade Hub.
Coris Bank participated in the Bouaké training and engaged participants in discussions about products and services to boost businesses’ operations and growth. Participants, who had expressed concern about the inability of most bank products to meet the needs of agribusinesses, were excited to learn that Coris Bank has developed products that respond to their needs. For example, the bank has a product called Prêt de campagne, which allows borrowers to start repayment after three months, when they have received payment for agricultural products sold after harvest. The conditions of repayment under Prêt de campagne are different from that of traditional banks that require repayment the month following borrowing.
“This training has been well organized and has taught us a lot of things that we were ignorant about when it comes to managing our businesses’ financing and the different bank products available,” said Ms. Baikoro Makoya, a foodstuff trader and member of Cooperative Solidarité Marche de Gros Bouaké.
The last training on October 14 in Abidjan took nine Coris Bank senior staff through a strategic exercise to acquaint them with the unique profile, needs and constraints of female entrepreneurs. This training created a platform for the bank officials to discuss Côte d’Ivoire’s market demand for financial services – with a focus on women business owners. Participants also analyzed the bank’s approach to this target group and summarized the opportunities and benefits of targeting female entrepreneurs as clients.
The training concluded with a draft gender strategy and action plan for Coris Bank’s three main branches of the bank to drive future development of an effective corporate gender strategy.