Networking initiative connecting 50m women entrepreneurs to take off in Kigali

A new networking platform to connect 50 million African women in business will be launched in Kigali next week during the upcoming Global Gender Summit. /File.

A new Pan-African networking platform to connect 50 million African women in business will be launched in Kigali next week during the upcoming Global Gender Summit.

This year’s Global Gender Summit, is hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the government of Rwanda and supported by other multilateral development banks as key partners.

The 50 Million African Women Speak (50MAWS) is a digital platform, which is available via web and on mobile devices as an app.

It is intended to economically empower millions of women in Africa to start, grow, and scale up businesses by providing a one-stop-shop for their specific information needs.

The initiative’s content will be accessible online and will be implemented by the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“I certainly believe that the creation of this platform is a very practical way of speaking to the general agenda of empowering women,” COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe, said.

“I think a lot has been said and now we have come to a stage where we have practical initiatives such as this one.”

The digital platform will allow women in 38 African countries to find information on running businesses, accessing financial services, create business opportunities online and access training resources, ultimately contributing to their economic empowerment.

Through a robust social networking functionality embedded in the platform, women will have opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and sharing information and knowledge, connecting via the web-based platform.

“65 per cent of the traded commodities in the East Africa region come from agriculture, a sector that employs 80 per cent of women. This platform will help this big part of our population to expand markets and get new op-portunities,” said Christophe Bazivamo, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors.

The platform also obtained an endorsement from ECOWAS’ Commissioner in charge of Social Affairs and Gender, Dr Siga Fatima Jagne.

Dr Fatima said: “At the level of ECOWAS, this platform perfectly fits within the scope of the programme on gender strengthened in 2005 by the heads of state and government through the adoption of the gender policy document.”

Featuring information on doing business in 38 countries across the African continent, 50MAWS’ unique proposition, as noted, is building a community of women entrepreneurs, who will act as peers, mentors, advisors and financiers to each other.

It will also facilitate access to training, business management tools and financ-ing options specifically targeted to women.

The expected outcome is to directly impact 50 million African women and cre-ate fair waged jobs for young people from the increased business activities and capital flow.

A new report indicates that women make up more than 40 per cent of African business owners yet only 2 per cent are able to access finance.

Accordingly, when the first Global Gender Summit held in Africa kicks off in Kigali next week, the international the community will look to dismantle bar-riers to women’s full participation and advancement of economic development on the continent.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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