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Twenty two years ago, the Beijing Platform for Action set an ambitious agenda for addressing women’s access to finance.

It called upon Governments to:

  • “Formulate and implement policies and programmes that enhance the access of women agricultural and fisheries producers (including subsistence farmers and producers, especially in rural areas) to financial, technical, extension and marketing services; provide access to and control of land, appropriate infrastructure and technology in order to increase women's incomes and promote household food security, especially in rural areas and, where appropriate, encourage the development of producer-owned, market-based cooperatives;
  • Promote and support women's self-employment and the development of small enterprises, and strengthen women's access to credit and capital on appropriate terms equal to those of men through the scaling-up of institutions dedicated to promoting women's entrepreneurship, including, as appropriate, non-traditional and mutual credit schemes, as well as innovative linkages with financial institutions”;
  • Enhance the access of disadvantaged women, including women entrepreneurs, in rural, remote and urban areas to financial services through strengthening links between the formal banks and intermediary lending organizations, including legislative support, training for women and institutional strengthening for intermediary institutions with a view to mobilizing capital for those institutions and increasing the availability of credit;
  • Encourage links between financial institutions and non-governmental organizations and support innovative lending practices, including those that integrate credit with women's services and training and provide credit facilities to rural women;

The Beijing Platform for Action also advocated for Governments, central banks and national development banks, and private banking institutions, as appropriate to:

  • “Use credit and savings methodologies that are effective in reaching women in poverty and innovative in reducing transaction costs and redefining risk;
  • Open special windows for lending to women, including young women, who lack access to traditional sources of collateral;
  • Simplify banking practices, for example by reducing the minimum deposit and other requirements for opening bank accounts;
  • Ensure the participation and joint ownership, where possible, of women clients in the decision-making of institutions providing credit and financial services.
  • Increase the participation of women, including women entrepreneurs, in advisory boards and other forums to enable women entrepreneurs from all sectors and their organizations to contribute to the formulation and review of policies and programmes being developed by economic ministries and banking institutions;
  • Mobilize the banking sector to increase lending and refinancing through incentives and the development of intermediaries that serve the needs of women entrepreneurs and producers in both rural and urban areas, and include women in their leadership, planning and decision-making;
  • Structure services to reach rural and urban women involved in micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, with special attention to young women, low-income women, those belonging to ethnic and racial minorities, and indigenous women who lack access to capital and assets; and expand women's access to financial markets by identifying and encouraging financial supervisory and regulatory reforms that support financial institutions' direct and indirect efforts to better meet the credit and other financial needs of the micro, small and medium-scale enterprises of women”;

The Beijing Platform for Action also encouraged multilateral funders and regional development banks, as well as bilateral and private funding agencies, at the international, regional and subregional levels to:

  • “Seek to mobilize new and additional financial resources that are both adequate and predictable and mobilized in a way that maximizes the availability of such resources and uses all available funding sources and mechanisms with a view to contributing towards the goal of poverty eradication and targeting women living in poverty;
  • Support institutions that meet performance standards in reaching large numbers of low-income women and men through capitalization, refinancing and institutional development support in forms that foster self-sufficiency.
  • Review, where necessary reformulate, and implement policies, programmes and projects, to ensure that a higher proportion of resources reach women in rural and remote areas;
  • Develop flexible funding arrangements to finance intermediary institutions that target women's economic activities, and promote self-sufficiency and increased capacity in and profitability of women's economic enterprises
  • Develop strategies to consolidate and strengthen their assistance to the micro, small and medium-scale enterprise sector, in order to enhance the opportunities for women to participate fully and equally and work together to coordinate and enhance the effectiveness of this sector, drawing upon expertise and financial resources from within their own organizations as well as from bilateral agencies, Governments and non-governmental organizations.

The Platform for Action also called upon international, multilateral and bilateral development cooperation organizations to “support, through the provision of capital and/or resources, financial institutions that serve low-income, small and micro-scale women entrepreneurs and producers in both the formal and informal sectors”.

The Beijing Platform for Action also invited Governments and/or multilateral financial institutions to “review rules and procedures of formal national and international financial institutions that obstruct replication of the Grameen Bank prototype, which provides credit facilities to rural women”.

It also gave financial intermediaries, national training institutes, credit unions, non-governmental organizations, women's associations, professional organizations and the private sector the task to:

  • “Promote technical and commercial links and establish joint ventures among women entrepreneurs at the national, regional and international levels to support community-based initiatives;
  • Invest capital and develop investment portfolios to finance women's business enterprises;
  • Support credit networks and innovative ventures, including traditional savings schemes;
  • Provide networking arrangements for entrepreneurial women, including opportunities for the mentoring of inexperienced women by the more experienced;
  • Encourage community organizations and public authorities to establish loan pools for women entrepreneurs, drawing on successful small-scale cooperative models”.

These commitments are reviewed every five years and reemphasized. More recently, the AU Summit Declaration on "2015 Year of Women's Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063" called upon financial institutions to have a minimum quota of 50% to finance women to grow from micro to macro businesses.

What role can the AfDB play to concretise these rights in the agricultural sector?



I would like to thank you all very much for your insighful contribution into this discussion. I have felt your passion throughout this very interesting debate. You have given us a lot of pointers on innovative and successful practices on women's empowerment in production, agricultural value chains, agribusinesses and agroindustries that can be upscaled.

You have also highlighted how the identified issues can be mainstreamed in key policy processes such as the regional and national agricultural investment plans and public-private partnerships. The roll out of the SDGs at country level also opens more prospects for policy engagement on these issues.

You have also shared very good ideas on financial inclusion of women in agribusiness.

I hope therefore that you will all remain engaged in the next discussion to be faciltated by Atsuko Toda, Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Development at the AfDB which fouses on gender equality in agricultural finance so that we can deepen the conversation on this aspect.

Warmest regards to all!