Ecobank Kenya’s Ellevate Programme To Empower Women-Led Businesses

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Ecobank Kenya Limited, part of the leading pan-African Ecobank Group (, is launching its flagship Women’s Programme ‘Ellevate’ to empower and support women-led and/or women focused with the financial and value-added solutions that will help their businesses reach their full potential and succeed.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for about 90% of all businesses in Africa and women own about a third of all registered African SMEs. Indeed, one-in-four (25.9%) of adult women in Africa start or manage a business.

However, women have not enjoyed equal access to high quality, demand driven financial services and it is estimated that women-owned SMEs face a US$42 billion financing gap[1], making lack of access to financing a common constraint to their business growth.

Ecobank Kenya, Managing Director Cheikh Travaly, said: “The growth of women-led and women-focused businesses have been long hampered by a range of impediments, including access to finance. We have specially designed Ellevate to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs through the provision of comprehensive, customised and tailor-made solutions which include favourable lending rates, smart cash management enablement and a suite of value-added services such as leadership training, mentoring and networking opportunities. Ecobank Commercial Bank is allocating a minimum of 10% of its loan portfolio to women’s businesses.

“Women-led businesses are a largely underserved market and Ecobank Kenya is determined to help them reach their potential, grasp business opportunities and become both scalable and sustainable. This will enable them to play a major role in Africa’s social and economic development, in addition to creating thousands of the jobs needed by this and future generations of Kenyans.”

Cheikh spoke during the formal launch of Ellevate by Ecobank in Kenya at the Nairobi Serena Hotel.

Since Ecobank Group launched the programme in 2020, the Bank has so far extended $208 million in loans and attracted $337.7 million in deposits. On average, this financial support has created an average of between 90,000 to 150,000 jobs across Africa largely in the areas of education, agribusiness, hospitality, retail and distributorship.

The product has also won notable awards such as Best New Product Launch of the Year 2021 (Middle East & Africa Retail Banking Innovation Awards); Impact Award 2021 (Financial Alliance for Women); Outstanding Crisis Finance Innovation Award 2021 (Global Finance Innovators Awards).

During the event, Ecobank Kenya also donated over 6,700 sanitary pads to County Girls High School and Immaculate Hearts Don Bosco centre to support young girls from needy backgrounds.