Ellevate by Ecobank: gender financing initiative with a unique offering of financial and non-financial support to positively impact women-owned, led or focused businesses.
Ecobank identified women-owned, ed or focused businesses as an important way to further diversify revenue streams while financially empowering women. In 2020, the Group launched ‘Ellevate by Ecobank’, designed for businesses owned by women, managed by women, businesses with a high percentage of female board members or employees and companies manufacturing products for women.
Ecobank’s Ellevate solution provides women’s businesses with tailor-made and relevant solutions - both financial and non-financial - that will evolve as their business needs evolve and empowers them personally and effectively contributes to the welfare of their families, communities and to Africa’s development.
A fundamental purpose of the Ecobank Group is to contribute to the economic and social development of the African continent; and empowering women entrepreneurs and women focused businesses helps to actualise this purpose.
Types of loans offered:
o working capital financing
o business overdraft
o business revolving credit plan
o inventory & distributor finance
o gender finance
o trade finance
o pre-export finance/pre-delivery advances/contract pre-payments financing against warehouse receipts
o advancing funds against commodities already held under collateral management
o vehicle/equipment/asset financing
o supply chain and receivable financing / factoring / forfaiting without recourse to borrower
o Post shipment finance under Structured Trade and Commodity Finance
o contract/local purchase order financing
o gender financing (see Ellevate details below)
o treasury solutions
o digital products and collections
• Business Account is the enhanced current account offering a bundle of digital solutions to equip SMEs with choice and ensure that we stay ahead of the digitalisation curve. Customers are automatically onboarded onto corporate internet banking platform, Omni Lite, EcobankPay, POS and Google My Business Profile when they open a Business Account and can also access working capital on the back of their digital payments.
• Business, financial and tax advisory services:
o Non-financial services e.g. training for SMEs, networking forums, Google My Business.
o Digital solutions:
• EcobankPay – mobile device enables scan and play digital solution.
• Omni Lite – our internet business platform which enables customers to make payments remotely.
Under Ellevate Equip, the training and capability building platform for our gender financing programme Ellevate by Ecobank, we partnered with the Global Business School Network to organise a Leadership Programme for our top tier Ellevate customers in 2022. The pioneering graduating class was made up of participants from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Participants benefited immensely from a world-class faculty from the MIT Global Program, INSEAD Africa Initiative and INSEAD Gender Initiative, the American University of Cairo School of Business, Stanford SEED and the University of Cape Town Graduate School. This is an innovative impact-driven programme, designed to equip women entrepreneurs with valuable leadership skills to be better empowered, and to equip them to empower their businesses and communities. The training covers identifying and working on key leadership challenges; mastering leadership perspectives - reframe challenges with a growth mindset; thinking strategically to advance individual and corporate objectives; building resilience - effectively manage stress, uncertainty, and setbacks; leveraging on action learning to identify new business opportunities and improve other areas for business growth; gaining a complete view of themselves as leaders; and how to effectively lead high performance teams. Given the level of interest generated and the very positive testimonials received we intend to build on this achievement by running other Master Classes in partnership with the Global Business Schools Network.
Our Women Business Leadership Academy provides business leadership skills training to 500 businesswomen across Africa each year.
Other recent initiatives that Ecobank has launched that are available to all SMEs, including women, include:
• In March 2023, Commercial Banking, supported by the Ecobank Academy, partnered with Visa to provide micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across Ecobank’s footprint with access to Visa’s Practical Business Skills educational resource. The online training forms part of the Ecobank’s MSME Booster series and offers online learning tools for MSMEs seeking growth as they prepare for the new business year. The course has been specially designed to cater for the needs of both seasoned business owners and startups eager to take their business to the next level. Participants will learn from key modules including financial management, how to promote a business, managing employees, creating a business plan and digitising their business amongst others.
• In 2022 we introduced the Financial Literacy Series, a collaboration between Commercial Banking, Ecobank Securities Wealth and Asset Management and EDC Investment Banking. Our objective is to further strengthen our competitive advantage in the delivery of non-financial support to SMEs. The first in the series was on ‘Preparing SMEs for the Capital Markets’ and it attracted nearly 3,500 registered participants. In 2023 we are continuing the series with very engaging and relevant sessions to sustain the interest built.
• In 2022, we successfully ran our flagship MSME Training for Financing programme. Customers completed six training modules covering introduction to risk, budgeting, selling online, cash flow, marketing techniques and customer experience. This was an expanded programme from the initial eight pilot countries in 2021 to all our 33 markets in 2022. Developed by the Ecobank Academy, the programme was delivered entirely by Ecobankers with 4,300 SMEs participating.
• As the bank with the most extensive footprint on the African continent, initiatives to drive intra-African trade and business growth cannot be overlooked. It was for this reason that we initiated the AfCFTA webinar series, in collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat. The webinars were on the following topics ‘Powering the Vision of One African Market’ and ‘Creating Access to New Markets’. ‘Making the AfCFTA Work for Women’, the third webinar, attracted over 3,000 registrations and was targeted at women-owned businesses. It was an opportunity for us to showcase our regional collection solution, RapidCollect, and how it can effectively and efficiently support cross-border payments. Participants benefited from discussions on how to take advantage of Africa’s new single trade area, access new markets and confidently negotiate logistical hurdles and scale their trading or ecommerce business.
• To effectively deliver on our strategic objectives we place priority on upskilling our Commercial Banking staff. With the support of the Ecobank Academy we provide tailored training programmes for our staff based on skill gaps identified. These training programmes help sharpen their skills and provide them with the tools they need to serve our customers better. In addition to this, we have instituted a Branch Managers Academy which runs modular training programmes specifically for Branch Managers.
• The Ecobank eCommerce solution - in partnership with three Fintechs: Ipay, Flutterwave and DPO - to facilitate the delivery of a dedicated and unique online store enabling our SME customers to sell their products and service online. It increases market access and revenues for our customers, as well as having a direct impact on deposits.
• In partnership with Google, we are offering our customers free online presence through the Google My Business Platform. As a value add, it also comes with the development of a free website which provides current and prospective customers with verifiable business information.
• We partnered with Microsoft on the Global Skilling Initiative to train, upskill and equip SMEs across sub-Saharan Africa with the vital skills (across 10 skillsets: Customer Services; Digital Marketing; Financial Analysis; Graphic Design; IT Support/Help Desk; Project Management; Sales; Data Analysis; IT Administration; Software Development) and knowledge necessary to leverage digital tools and achieve their business goals in this increasingly digital world. 50,000 participated in the first five months.
• An innovative way that we are extending credit to SMEs is by tying it in with the increased utilisation of digital platforms for collections. Customer accounts are linked seamlessly to EcobankPay and other digital collections. The turnover of digital collections received into the account are used to obtain an eligible amount as a credit facility for the customer.
• We create value propositions to attract millennial entrepreneurs though capacity building partnerships, our digital account opening, social media marketing and delivering attractive value-propositions for customer groupings and associations.
• We collaborate with existing risk sharing partners, such as DFIs, who share in our developmental goals and are willing to share a portion of the risk associated with our lending, thereby giving us the ability to expand and introduce new credit facilities to small businesses. Working with these risk sharing partners has made it possible to reduce the collateral requirement to a minimum of 50%. Since 2018, we have successfully increased our risk sharing facilities from US$50 million to US$250 million by the close of 2022. We are continuing to engage DFIs to expand our existing risk sharing facilities by at least an additional US$150 million in 2023.
• RapidCollect - innovative collection facility enabling SMEs to collect payments from their clients outside their countries instantly and at lower cost than any other current remittance solution using local currencies. Benefits include payments credited instantly to customers’ accounts; the collection of payments from customers in any of Ecobank’s affiliates in 33-countries; The SME or local corporate only needs a bank account in their home country (i.e. not in every country with which they trade); enables transactions in local currencies; reduces remittance payment and transaction costs; and increases payment limits.
• Partnership with Mastercard Farm Pass which provides an innovative solution connecting smallholder farmers to financial and agricultural ecosystems, digitising the agricultural value chains. Farm Pass is being rolled out across Ecobank’s 33 sub-Saharan African countries of operations, helping millions of smallholder farmers gain digital access to markets, quality inputs, financial services, and real-time pricing information. Farm Pass makes it safer and easier for farmers to sell their produce at a fair price. Farm Pass brings together various agri-sector stakeholders from the supply and demand sides, in one agricultural marketplace, amplifying the collective positive impact on farming communities. Smallholder farmers can sell their produce at a better price, access quality inputs and farming information, get paid and pay digitally and develop a financial profile that can unlock financing opportunities for working capital and inputs.
• In March 2023 we launched the Ecobank Single Market Hub. It positions Ecobank as the go-to bank for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for SMEs, regional, multinational and local corporates with an innovative combination of first-rate solutions. It provides:
o MyTradeHub – an online match-making platform enabling importers and exporters to upload their profile, showcase goods and services and source those they require, and connect/contract with buyers and suppliers across Africa;
o An Information repository on AfCFTA helping SMEs and corporates to familiariase themselves with the African single market and grow their trade in new markets across Africa; and
o A gateway to Ecobank’s full range of products and solutions, including Trade Finance and Services, Cash Management Solutions such as RapidCollect, Payments, FICC (foreign exchange), Investment Banking (e.g. debt raising, advisory), Capex Financing and more.
Uniqueness of the project
Ellevate by Ecobank offer women owned, led or focused businesses with an end-to-end partnership in which they can gain access not only to financial services, but also financial education, information on products and services, networking and recognition. Offering both financial and non-financial solutions differentiates Ecobank from its peer banks with limited offerings to women entrepreneurs.
Ellevate benefits from Ecobank’s ‘One Bank’ model whereby we manufacture our products and services centrally and distribute them locally through our network of 33 sub-Saharan African countries. This enables us to provide standardised products throughout all our countries of operation, regardless of country size. This ensures that the Group maintains our standards across the board, in terms of products, processes and service delivery anchored on our technology platform, underpinning our strategy and enabling us to constantly develop new banking products, functionalities and services, while delivering speed-to-market and mass African roll-out. As such, upon launch Ellevate achieved instantaneous replicability and scalability throughout Ecobank’s entire 33-country footprint.
Ellevate is designed to help bridge the financing gap that women face in growing their business and has attracted a lot of interest from development finance institutions (DFIs) in recognition of Ecobank’s work in supporting women businesses across the continent. These DFIs have offered Technical Support in the form of risk sharing facilities that help us enhance our capacity to increase access to credit for women under the Ellevate initiative with very favourable collateral requirements.
Ecobank’s Ellevate has successfully addressed the following issues:
o Even when access to finance and banking services isn’t an issue, women entrepreneurs often express some dissatisfaction with the financial services industry:
They are not only looking for products, they also want the solutions that will help them to achieve their goals.
Many feel that they are not well understood by their financial services provider and therefore do not get the right level of service and support that they require.
They are seeking information, education/advisory services and networking opportunities and they want banks that will proactively respond to their needs and preferences.
*** The Country dropdown below only permits one country to be selected. Ellevate is available in all 33 Ecobank sub-Saharan African countries: Benin; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Cabo Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; DR Congo; Congo Brazzaville; Cote d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; The Gambia; Ghana; Guinea (Conakry); Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; São Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Sudan; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe.