The contribution of women entrepreneurs to African economies is very vital to the growth and development of the continent.
A 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) which examined progress in fifty-eight economies representing 80% of the world’s female workforce revealed that the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse effect on women entrepreneurs globally. MIWE’s 2020 report also ranked Uganda (39.6%), Botswana (38.5%), and Ghana (36.5%) as the world’s three leading economies having the most women business owners.
The above data provides interesting insights as to why women businesses and entrepreneurs need to be supported so that they can thrive and scale.
Women of Africa Network is an organisation established to positively impact the lives of women in Africa and the diaspora by empowering them and ensuring their relevance within the African Continental Free Trade Area.
It was formally launched on the 20th of March 2021 via a virtual event with the participation of Key Stakeholders having a similar vision of the organisation.
The aim of the Women of Africa Network is to support women entrepreneurs on or aligned to the continent to become economically successful, build a continental network of traders, regulatory authorities, and policymakers to assure maximum value. This will be done through education, trade facilitation, and providing access to finance.
The Women of Africa Network will celebrate women in entrepreneurship, champion advocacy to boost their inclusion in business, as well as raise funds, and promote initiatives under the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to serve them opportunities to thrive and scale. And so, history was made when the Network was officially declared launched by the CEO of the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) – Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko and Mrs. Beatrice Chaytor, an International Trade Lawyer and Senior Trade in Service for the African Union Commission.
Speaking during the launch, Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko who is also a Pharmacist and first female CEO of the FDA used her own example to state the importance of “using your skills first as a professional and then as a woman in performing duties.” She also encouraged the need to mentor female students, to help them improve their skills and to “dig deep, explore wide and continue to learn.”
Mrs. Beatrice Chaytor also touted women as active players on the continent. “There is space for everyone, not only in the private sector but civil society as well”, she says.
The AfCFTA is directly aligned with Agenda 2063 of the African Union Commission, a fifty year declaration programme signed in 2013 to support Africa’s new path for attaining inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development.
Executive Director Ms. Joyce Williams, Esq. quoted one of her favourite sayings by Dr. James Kwegyir-Aggrey to buttress the point of why building and growing the Women of Africa Network is very fundamental and monumental in the development of the continent: “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.”
Mrs. Audrey Akua Serwaa Biney who is the Deputy Executive Director added that there must be avenues to lobby for women to gain top leadership positions, not only on the continent but internationally as well. According to her “There are a lot of talents that have not been unearthed yet including those in the diaspora, and so it is our role to mobilize them and lobby for leadership positions to collaborate with other institutions to advance that particular course. It is also important to champion the vision of women in the informal sector to make the AfCFTA succeed.”
Also present at the launch of the Network were Dr. Hind Kassir, an Education Consultant and Senior Coordinator of the Arab Women League, Dr. Zuberi, the Founder of Africa Youth Diaspora Organization and an International Consultant, and Mr. Papa Bartels- Head of Trade at the Ghana High Commission UK. The others are Mr. Louis Yaw Afful, Executive Director of AfCFTA Policy Network Ghana and Diaspora, Mr. Emmanuel K. Bensah, Deputy Executive Director of AfCFTA Policy Network Ghana and Diaspora and Mr. Joe Tackie, Board Chairman of the AfCFTA Policy Network Ghana and Diaspora. Head of Business Desk at TV3 Ghana, Etornam Sey moderated the virtual event.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) released a report on women’s entrepreneurship in January 2021, which studies data from tens of thousands of African entrepreneurs and firms to establish links between education, access to finance and improved productivity. It revealed that tackling educational attainment gaps can uplift African women entrepreneurs and businesses. It is therefore commendable to see the establishment of organisations that are spearheading the drive to build capacity to sustain the growth and development of the African continent by one of its biggest partners – women entrepreneurs.
To show your support by making a donation, volunteering your time or partnering with the Women of Africa Network, please email to: email@example.com
For more information about the network, kindly visit: www.womenofafricanetwork.org
By: Theresa R. Fianko
Additional Information: Women of Africa Network
Image Attribution: Women of Africa Network