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Background to the COMESA and the 50MAWSP

COMESA is the largest regional economic community (REC) in Africa. Gender equality and economic empowerment of women as one of its priority areas to enhance economic development in the region. The work of COMESA on gender and women empowerment is supported by the Treaty, Gender Policy and the African Union Agenda 2063 and Global Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

As a continent, Africa has high rates of entrepreneurship generally, with many countries having almost equal participation between men and women. Women owned businesses y have been limited by capacity due to inadequate access to information/business intelligence and media that enhance timely proactive business decision making capacity to ensure enterprise viability sustainability in the short- medium- to- long-term. The scenario is quite different for their counterparts in industrialized economies where technological advancement has substantially reduced the cost and availability of business intelligence. Women business owners in the African context continue to face gender-specific barriers such as limited access to information and networking opportunities, lower levels of education and business training, weak property rights that deprive them of collateral and tangible assets, legal barriers that impede their economic activities and cultural barriers that discourage women from thriving as entrepreneurs. The consequence is that women have challenges accessing financial and non-financial services and so the size and growth of their businesses suffer.

The African Development Bank collaborated with COMESA, EAC and ECOWAS through the 50 Million Women Speak (50MWS) Project to create a dynamic networking Digital Platform for women entrepreneurs. The Platform will enable women to connect with one another in ways that will foster peer-to-peer learning, knowledge exchange/transfer, mentoring and the sharing of information and knowledge within communities, and provide them with access to trade finance and market opportunities between urban and rural areas, and across borders and between countries. In addition, the Platform will enable women to develop market intelligence skills to stay abreast of business development trends within their contexts, regionally and globally to ensure sustainability of their businesses. The project is implemented in 38 countries belonging to COMESA East African Community (EAC) and Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS).

The project is expected to achieve among others, the following results: increased access and use of financial services by women entrepreneurs; increased participation of women entrepreneurs in business networks; availability of statistics on women in business; and increased access to national and regional markets. , Subsequently, the project is expected to contribute to the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs through the use of the platform for business development.

Country Teams made up of representatives from the Public Sector, Private Sector and Civic Societies i.e. representatives from Ministries responsible for Gender, Ministries of Trade, Women Associations, and membership-based entities working with women in business or enterprise development have been established. The Country Teams will be supported by the National Content Developer in each of the respective Member States.

Appointment of a National Content Developers

The 50MWS Project would like to appoint a National Content Developer for the project in each of its member States. The person must be resident within the Member State and will work closely with the Country Team to gather information and develop relevant content on information needs and services for women in business to be uploaded on the platform.

Click on the link below for more details.