Ethiopia’s first women’s bank plans to commence operations in the next few months in Addis Ababa.
Africa’s first commercial bank founded, run and owned by women started a soft launch in November.
Women have bought around 70% of the more than 7,000 shares sold since 2009 in Ethiopia’s Enat Bank Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which means ‘mother’ in Amharic.
Enat plans to start taking its first deposits once the the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) awards its final licence before a full launch early in 2013.
“We will provide services like any other bank, but what makes us different from any of the other banks is that we are providing capacity-building services to women,” says Nigest Haile, one of the six women on the 11-member board.
Haile, who also runs the Center for African Women Economic Empowerment in Addis Ababa, explains that women in Ethiopia struggle to access finance, especially when they have difficulty borrowing against collateral.
“It had been the culture that most women have not been aggressive [enough] to face a loan officer,” she says.
Its initial plans are to offer traditional banking services through three branches based in Addis Ababa before launching a range of services targeted at women in 2013.
Enat raised 75m birr ($4.1m) in start-up capital, and narrowly avoided legislation in September 2011 that requires new banks to have start-up capital of 500m birr. It will now have until 2016 to raise the cash.
After the NBE turned down a couple of original nominations, it agreed in May that Fasika Kebede, former vice-president of the state-run Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, would be the bank’s first female president.
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