Women Enterprise Fund: Women groups seek bigger and better terms of loans

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The women representatives of Banjul have demanded the increment of loan allocations from the Women Enterprise Fund and the extension of the repayment period.

They made this demand in a public hearing on the Women’s Enterprise Fund (WEF) with the Gender Committee of the National Assembly on Monday, November 16 in Banjul.

Speaking before the committee, the women lamented the short grace period given to pay back the loans given to them from the fund and the low amount given to the Kafos.

The hearing with women kafos in Banjul, among other things, aimed to unearth the disbursements, recoveries, impact and challenges of the fund, facilitating the committee to prepare a comprehensive report and proffer recommendation to the executive and Ministry for implementation.

They recommended the committee to advise government to increase the loan allocations to the Kafos using the fund, with West Africa Women Association (WAWA) and Team RoheyMalick Lowe Kafo recommending an increment of D1 million and that the repayment term be also increased to one-year grace period accompanied by a one-year repayment period.

Some of the Kafos, such as the ECOWAS Federation Gambia, recommended the reduction of the interest rate to at least 1 percent and that selection of beneficiaries shouldn’t pick and choose.

According to the committee, in the first quarter of 2023, four groups in Banjul benefited and the total disbursements was five hundred and fifty thousand Dalasi, with a repayment amount of five hundred and seventy-seven thousand and five hundred Dalasi.

In the second quarter, the committee reported that a total of 24 groups benefited with a total distribution of two million and Four Hundred Thousand was made to the 24 groups, with a repayment of two million five hundred and twenty thousand Dalasi.

“The amount recovered was One Million Four Hundred and thirty-three thousand Dalasi leaving an outstanding balance of One Million Two hundred and eighty-seven thousand Dalasi,” said the committee.

The committee reported that in the third quarter, 27 groups benefited from a total disbursement of Two million and seven hundred thousand Dalasi, with repayment of Two million eight hundred and thirty-five thousand Dalasi, and total recovered was One million six hundred and nineteen thousand one hundred and seventy-three Dalasi.

In the first quarter, the committee also reported that 51 groups benefited from a total disbursement of four million and eight hundred and forty-five thousand dalasi with total recovery amounting to three million five hundred and twenty-three thousand in the KMC as at August 2023, leaving an outstanding balance of five hundred and seventy-five million and eight thousand Dalasi.

It added that 3 groups benefited from a total disbursement of Four hundred and fifty thousand dalasi in the second quarter, with repayment of Four and seventy-two thousand and five hundred dalasi with zero recoveries.

The committee reported, “In the third quarter 52 groups benefited and the total disbursement amount to them was seven million and one hundred thousand, with repayment of seven million four hundred and fifty-five thousand dalasi. The payments of these loans were expected to start in September but until now nothing has been recovered”.

The Women Enterprise Fund, established by the WEF Act and enacted by the National Assembly on 24th September 2020, aims to create, promote and grow women enterprises, to create self-employment for women, to model an alternative framework in funding women entrepreneurs, to attract, strengthen and facilitate investment in micro, small and medium enterprises, oriented commercial infrastructure including business, kafos, stall, markets or business incubators that will be beneficiaries, to support women-oriented micro, small and medium enterprises to develop linkages with large enterprises and market outlets, and to enhance job creation.