AfDB Business Leadership Award Winner Advocates People-Friendly Governance

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Dakar, May 10, 2009 – South African business woman, Louisa Madiako Mojela, who became the first recipient of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s African Business Leadership Award, has urged governments in Africa to create people-friendly environments, where all men and women can thrive and attain their maximum leadership potential.

Governments should start creating not only women-friendly environments, but also the political space where all could develop leadership and personal capacities, Mrs. Mojela emphasized after receiving her prize from AfDB Group President, Donald Kaberuka, on Sunday in Dakar, Senegal.

“I believe that we now need to start creating not only women-friendly environments, but also people-friendly ones where all team members can thrive and reach their maximum leadership potential,” she said.

The yearly Award, which is a partnership between  the AfDB, Advanced Finance and Investment Group LLC (AFIG), African Banking Corporation (ABC), African Finance Corporation(AFC), AfriSearch and Ecobank Senegal, was established to honour outstanding contributions in African Business and Private Sector Development. The award supports and directs attention to efforts made to benefit shareholders, customers, employees, governments and all economic actors in Africa’s private sector.

Mrs. Mojela, who is the chief executive officer of the Johannesburg-based Women Investment Portfolio Holdings Limited (WIPHOLD), specifically made a case for a women-friendly environment, adding that “the onus is on us to take advantage of the environment to develop leadership and personal capacities in women and for women.”

Noting that the continent was constantly seeking ways to become a credible player in the global marketplace, the award winner stressed that, “our economies can never be sustained or developed by male productivity alone.”

“Unlocking women’s productive capacity and leadership role is one of the most dynamic ways a society can multiply its efficiency and global competitiveness. This means awareness must be raised so that women can and must participate in all sectors of the economy for a myriad of reasons, most often out of necessity,” she explained.

The AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, for his part, said private sector development was the key to unlock the huge potential represented by African women in business. “our experience tells us that the much-anticipated emergence on the world stage of the African private sector can only take place if Africa can produce exceptional men and women who are capable of turning their vision into concrete actions,” he added.

“This is the only way to lay the foundation for Africa’s future blue-chip companies,” he said.

“I take this opportunity to salute Mrs. Louisa Madiako Mojela’s track record as well as her courage in carving out a meaningful role for women in the corporate boardroom. This is a remarkable feat anywhere in the world and we welcome it even more in Africa,” Mr. Kaberuka added.

The AFIG Chief Executive Officer, Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, noted that “Today, we recognize the best amongst ourselves. We also try to give back in some small way to our sister, Louisa Mojela, a truly exceptional woman who was able, very early on, to identify gaps in the African private sector and devise innovative solutions to launch South African enterprises on the path of value and wealth creation.”