Release: French and Canadian development finance institutions launch capacity-building project for women entrepreneurs to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

January 28, 2021 – FinDev Canada, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and its subsidiary, Proparco, have announced the launch of a capacity-building project for women entrepreneurs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project follows the 2X Invest2Impact business competition created in 2019 to identify and support the growth of roughly 100 high-potential, women-owned small or medium enterprises (SMEs) in five East African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The project’s main objective is to offer a range of financial and non-financial capacity-building measures to 2X Invest2Impact partner SMEs to help them to address the key challenges they face, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This capacity-building project specifically aims to help participating entrepreneurs overcome the current crisis and support the development of effective business strategies and investment readiness so they can raise the necessary funds to ensure their growth and sustainability.

“The economic empowerment of women and gender equality are at the heart of our investment strategy,” said Yolanda Banks, Principal Advisor at FinDev Canada. “As a founding member of the 2X Challenge and the 2X Invest2Impact initiative, we are proud to lead this new project in collaboration with AFD and Proparco.”

Open Capital Advisors (OCA), a management consulting and finance firm based in Kenya, will implement the support project. Activities will be developed based on the profile, size and investment readiness of participating companies and will consist of customized individual support, group workshops, training sessions and webinars aimed at ensuring investment readiness and sharing knowledge and best practices to address the challenges they face, both in their day-to-day activities and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Agence Française de Développement will fund the entire project, and its subsidiary, Proparco, will monitor implementation. Gender equality is one of the main priorities of the “100% Social Link” commitment, one of the AFD’s objectives. The AFD aims to achieve 50% of its annual commitments to support projects with a primary or significant objective of promoting gender equality by 2022, and to provide €700 million in grants to projects with a primary objective by the same date.

The business support project will run for 15 months and come to an end in 2022.

Media contacts:

Sophie BLAIZE Associate, Communications & Stakeholder Relations, FinDev Canada

Romain ESPERON, Communications Officer, Proparco,

About FinDev Canada

Development Finance Institute Canada Inc., operating under the FinDev Canada brand, is a Canadian institution dedicated to providing financial services to the private sector in developing countries with the aim of combating poverty through economic growth by focusing on three main themes: economic development through job creation, women economic empowerment, and climate change mitigation. The Development Finance Institute Canada Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Export Development Canada (EDC). Find out more about FinDev Canada here.

About Agence Française de Développement Group and Proparco

Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group implements France’s policy with respect to development and international solidarity. Consisting of the AFD, which is in charge of public sector and NGO financing; Proparco, for private sector financing; and soon, Expertise France, a technical cooperation agency, it finances, supports and advances transitions toward a more cohesive and resilient world. AFD Group is tasked with implementing the Stratégie internationale de la France sur l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes 2018–2022 as it relates to feminist diplomacy.

Proparco has been promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development practices for the past 40 years. Providing funding and support to businesses and financial institutions across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, it seeks partner projects in key development sectors—infrastructure (renewable energy in particular), agri-food, financial institutions, health care and education—and to boost the private sector’s contribution toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the international community in 2015. To this end, Proparco finances companies that play a central role in creating decent jobs with decent wages, supplying essential goods and services, and battling climate change. For more information, visit or @Proparco.