“Central Africa is made of very ambitious women, but you find that at the end of the day that they are not getting what they should get out of the hard work they’re doing because the environment is not very conducive,” Gisele Yitamben, founder and president of Association pour le Soutien et l’Appui à la Femme Entrepreneur (ASAFE), told CNBC Africa on Friday.
“They don’t have easy access to credit, they don’t have access to the kind of education that is needed to improve their business. That’s the reason why we started ASAFE to support women entrepreneurs to create the kind of product that will have them rise to the level of hard work.”
ASAFE is a non-profit organisation based in Cameroon that provides business training, development services, financing and access to e-commerce to support women entrepreneurs in the DRC, Central Africa, Benin, Guinea and Chad.
Yitambem explained that institutions to support women entrepreneurs within ASAFE had to be first set up before microfinance support was provided.
Because a number of the women entrepreneurs’ businesses did not require large sums of money, micro financing proved to be a sustainable means of providing financial support.
“We have good contact with the government, with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, with the research centres, to tell them what we are seeing in the field and to make sure that we give incentive to those who are doing better for the women,” Yitamben explained.
ASAFE also works with members of parliament, some of who have taken an active role in helping change the situation of women in the region.
Yitamben added that building societal resilience would require looking for new opportunities as well as creating more collaboration through various public and private partnerships.
Finding new ways to contribute to the development of regional economies in Central Africa is also a crucial factor, which will assist in providing more opportunities for women in similar positions.
“These are economies with a lot of potential, there is a lot of potential that just needs to be grabbed, that need to find a needed investment and needed support,” she said.