It is apparent that in different countries and continents, there is the lack of recognition of women’s contribution to the economic development of the society. Then there are the obstacles most of these women have to go through. But the situation is very bad in the West Africa.
Also, across the world, it has become a global agenda that women must be empowered economically. It makes good economic sense because women have a natural instinct to do certain things. If you empower a woman, she tends to invest her earnings into the household, into the education of her children, and they go out to contribute to their communities, the nation and the African continent.
Women in Africa encounter a lot of challenges trying to start a business. Access to finance is one major problem, but having access to economic opportunities is where it starts. Then there are cultural obstacles. For example, in some communities, a woman cannot source for a loan without acquiring the signature of either her husband or a male figure, even though the person is not bringing anything into that business. In some societies, women don’t have rights to land.
Then, across Africa, there is a lot of economic growth. Everybody is talking about Africa rising, Africa growing and Africa moving on. The Global Entrepreneurship Summit just ended in Nairobi and Barrack Obama identified some of the problems. There, it was general entrepreneurship that they were talking about but he identified the problem in Africa that women represented 50 per cent of the population but they do not have access to equal opportunities. There he put it aptly that if half of your team is not playing, then you have a problem. So Africa is rising, Africa is the new investment frontier because you have people coming from China, America, Europe and all over the world wanting to grab a piece from what’s happening in Africa. There is need to create awareness; there is need to make Nigerian government see the importance of economic empowerment. There is need to empower the African woman because she represents the potential for Africa’s socio-economic development.
Essential targets to work with
The initiative to empower women, bringing together established, successful businesswomen, and, also, young, emerging and aspiring female businesswomen. The initiative is interested in bringing together policymakers, the government, non-governmental organisations, and also the academia. Being a pan-Africa event, the founders are trying to create a platform for networking and learning across borders, and also for potential business partnerships and mentorship.
There will be a small fee to pay. But the founders have two very high-level training workshops for delegates. One will be on leadership and ethics, and will be presented by Leap Africa, and the facilitators are top-notch. Then the second one will be presented by the Business School Netherlands, and this is a school people go to get their MBA.
This is one of the reasons why the founders of the initiative are looking for sponsorships. Because if they are able to raise enough sponsorships, then they will be able to make the participation free for all young and emerging entrepreneurs.
How to empower women
Many of the female businesswomen entrepreneurs are operating in SME arena. It is necessary to bring focus on the challenges faced by women in the rural area. They are not to be left behind. The organisers of the initiative bringing the grassroots to this conference, and to help us do this, They are partnering with the Quintessential Businesswomen Association. The association has members in every local government in the country and they are empowering women in the agricultural sector, teaching them how to do things and manufacture local products like honey and other essential products.