Thursday, 21 August 2014

African Women in Business meet to build linkages and break barriers

Description: IMG_1073Nairobi, Kenya -August 2014. The first African Women Business Linkages Forum kicked off yesterday in Nairobi. Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the meeting brings together more than hundred women from across the continent and different development sectors. Most of them are specialized in extractive industries, agriculture, agri-business and agro-industries, in construction engineering, in manufacturing textiles, services sector such as banking, in education, in capacity building, etc. The theme of the Business Linkages Forum is “Building Linkages to Break Barriers.”

The Business Linkages Workshop for Women in Business is a timely opportunity for women to network, discover sources of funding, share experiences and build new partnerships to enhance their entrepreneurial capacities. These experiences will focus on addressing some of the challenges faced by women in business and providing a platform for peer learning from successful business women that have overcome these challenges. The forum aims at bringing African Women in Business together to network, conduct Business to Business (B2B), share experiences and best practices, motivate each other and showcase their businesses and be an inspiration to one another. The expected outcomes are, among others, to facilitate collaborative learning and sharing of experiences, to increase success rates for business startups among women entrepreneurs, to identify and promote business opportunities for women entrepreneurs within the emerging intra-Africa trade Agenda. The forum also aims to identify and promote opportunities for women entrepreneurs in dynamic sectors of the African economy including extractives and agri-business.

Description: IMG_1103In her opening remarks, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry welcomed the participants and started by remembering the women in acknowledged the huge contribution of the women both to the management of households and business industries. “While women often have the primary responsibility for the management of households and national social and economic development, they are rarely recognized, consulted and involved in the planning and management of this social and economic development.

In Africa, women produce up to 80 percent of basic things and engaged in the key business and industries, creating employment for hundreds of our youth, yet they have the least access to the means of production”, she explained.  “Your contribution to social and economic transformation is very well demonstrated and I just cannot find enough words to explain it’’, she added. She urged the participants not only to network and discuss but also to create critical partnership between the AUC and the African Business Women in order to make Africa, “The Africa we want” through the Agenda 2063. “Alongside the Agenda 2063, the African Union Commission is implementing key frameworks and initiatives namely the Boosting Intra-African Trade where we need to increase cross border trade especially for women so that we can create more business and also ensure that all the informal cross border trade is formalized. The other framework is the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) where goods and services and factors of production can move across borders smoothly”, she said.

On her part, Mrs. Maria-Threase Keating, UNDP Country Director, representing Mr. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, UNDP Resident Representative thanked the African Union Commission and the UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa for organizing the Forum centred on the new regional programme designed by both organizations to establish new business linkages and networks aimed at breaking the barriers to women’s economic empowerment in Africa. She indicated that the programme seeks to respond to Africa’s development priorities and challenges in line with the African Union Women’s Decade (2010-2020) and UNDP Strategic Plan as well as the UNDP Gender Equality Strategy. “We at UNDP Kenya warmly welcome this new regional programme and look forward to being a part in its implementation for the benefit of Kenyan women and the economy as a whole”, she stipulated, stressing on the contribution of women to employment and wealth creation through entrepreneurship. “The economic empowerment of women is no doubt the key for Africa’s sustained economic growth and development. In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, the critical role of women as economic agents in the development process of any society cannot be overemphasized. This therefore means that equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do but the best that can ever happen in order to move a society forward in terms of socio-economic transformation’’, she said.  

This gathering is planned to take place annually, considering the importance of making the voice of the Women in business heard and inspire young women entrepreneurs working on a legacy for the next generation, in the spirit of Agenda 2063.

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