Business leaders to empower women at 2015 AWIEF
The programme tagged; “Investing in Women Entrepreneurs: Unleashing Africa’s Economic Growth” will focus on improving access to finance, building the capacity of women, participation in economic opportunities and ensuring adequate mentoring for young entrepreneurs are some topics of concern to be addressed by AWIEF participants.
Speaking on the forthcoming programme, founder of AWIEF, Irene Ochem said, despite constituting 50 percept of the world population and making substantial contribution to socio-economic development, women’s contributions largely remain unrecognized and unnoticed in most developing countries with a particular magnitude across Africa.
“African women have unequal and little opportunities to enter into formal economic activities. They continue to face more challenges and obstacles than their male counterparts when trying to start businesses. The inequality in economic opportunity is extreme and disheartening in most parts of Africa”.
She said the issue of empowerment is not only about gender parity in economic participation but also about economic and global competitiveness. At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, US President, Barack Obama, aptly identified the issue when he said, “If half of your team is not playing, you’ve got a problem”.
According to her, empowering women has become therefore the key element in the development of any economy; hence, it has become a global agenda. “African women, by their very nature and being the fundamental basis of the African society, have the natural tendency to use their earnings and bargaining power to improve their family wellbeing. As such, if empowered with the right things and tools, women will reinvest their income to lift up their families, their communities, their nations and, ultimately, the African continent. African women, where they have been empowered, have been known to excel in small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs)”.
Ochem, who is also the Managing Director of ICO Conferences and Events, organisers of AWIEF 2015, noted that empowering women therefore makes good economic sense and represents the greatest potential for the socio-economic development of African societies. Given that today, Africa is rising; Africa is on the move to economic development and transformation. “Africa has no doubt become the new investment frontier. Despite the gloomy global market conditions, one continues to see, in the last decade, companies scrambling into Africa from China, North America and Europe”.
She told The Guardian in an exclusive interview that, there are abundant opportunities ready to be harnessed and these opportunities should be available in an equal manner to both men and women alike. And women should be made able to participate fully for enhanced impact in their societies. She stressed that many African governments are responding responsibly to this situation by integrating youth and female entrepreneurship into the economy.