Tunis, 22 October 2010 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) is considering launching a global competition aimed at identifying women’s projects and women-owned small businesses which have proved to be most innovative within Africa’s civil society.
Leila Mokaddem, AfDB Financial Institutions Manager, made the announcement at the Congress of the World Business Women Association (FCEM), holding from 19-23 October 2010 in Florence, Italy.
Co-sponsored by the AfDB, the 58th FCEM is focusing on the theme: “New Economy, New Ecology”.
“The African Women Innovation Award would be given to the winners of a global competition among innovative women projects and businesses throughout Africa,” Mrs. Mokaddem said. It will be created under the AfDB’s African Women in Business (AWIB) Initiative. It will involve strategic partnerships with European governments, universities and businesses.
“In this era of regional integration, we should encourage women to do things differently. If the African continent wants to be competitive at the international level, it must be in line with international standards. The AfDB wishes to encourage women entrepreneurs in this direction,” she said. She recalled that the AfDB actively supported African Women Entrepreneurs for the crucial role they played in the economy of the continent.
During a session on how to explore innovative ways of fostering European-African cooperation between women in business, Françoise Foning, FCEM President and Laura Gucci, AIDDA President; the Italian Association of women entrepreneurs, welcomed the idea of the award with much enthusiasm.
The AfDB has also announced to FCEM Africa Task Force the recent approval of the African Guarantee Fund for SMEs (AGF). The African delegation, comprising some 100 African women entrepreneurs from 20 countries, also welcomed the new pan-African project for small and medium enterprises. The African women entrepreneurs associations have committed to working together with the Bank and the local commercial banks to create synergies with the African Guarantee Fund and preparing their members to submit appropriate loan requests.
Participants highlighted some options for strengthening Europe-Africa cooperation between women entrepreneurs. They called for enhanced support to information and communication technologies for African women in business. They also called for advocacy campaigns targeting European governments and parliaments on the promotion of African women entrepreneurship development, more efficient access to credit and financial inclusion.
The high-level forum enabled the AfDB to highlight some of the challenges faced and efforts at increased cooperation.