Cairo, November 18, 2020: Egypt became the seventh COMESA Member State to launch the 50 Million African Women Speak (50MAWSP) platform at a colourful event held in Cairo on Wednesday 18 November 2020.
The national launch of the platform was presided over by the Deputy Executive Director of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA), Eng. Tarek Shash, who represented Her Excellency Nevine Gamea, the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry and MSMEDA Executive Director.
At the well-attended event, which was a hybrid of conventional and virtual ceremonies, Eng. Shash gave a ringing endorsement of the platform, describing the 50MAWSP initiative as “key” because the Egypt’s national strategy for SMEs is focused on digitalisation.
“Women are prioritised in terms of entrepreneurship hence having this platform in place will help us to achieve the plan to enable them to network,” Eng. Shash said.
“This is only the beginning. We need to do more after the launch. The success of the platform cannot be achieved singlehandedly,” he added as he emphasized the need for continued collaboration. The MSMEDA Deputy Executive Director also thanked COMESA and the African Development Bank for their support in making the platform a reality in Egypt.
COMESA’s high-profile participation at the event was led by Assistant Secretary General Dr. Kipyego Cheluget who observed that women’s economic participation is key to poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth.
Dr. Cheluget however decried the gender-specific barriers such as limited access to information and networking opportunities which hamper the ability of women to do business. He remarked that the 50MAWSP platform would help to change this.
“The 50 Million African Women Speak platform is an initiative that uses technology to empower women by providing them with the information they need to start or grow their businesses.
“This digital platform is much more than a marketplace for Egyptian women to showcase their products or connect with buyers. It is a hub providing information on where they can access financial services, business management training, financial literacy skilling and useful tips on how to engage in import or export business,” he said.
He commended the Government of Egypt for its support in implementing the initiative and urged the Member State to devote the required resources to ensure its sustainability. He thanked the funding partner, African Development Bank (AfDB) for the financial support which has made the 50 Million African Women Speak Project possible across the COMESA, EAC and ECOWAS regional blocs.
The AfDB Country Manager for Egypt, Ms Malinne Blomberg, on her part noted that the 50 Million African Women Speak Project reflects the agenda of the Bank to mainstream gender in all its initiatives and added that the “50MAWSP platform may have an even bigger importance than may have been originally envisaged in the midst of the COVID pandemic.”
The 50 Million African Women Speak platform aims to facilitate a dynamic and engaging exchange of ideas among women entrepreneurs, using in-built social media functionality to connect them with one another in ways that will foster peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and the sharing of information and knowledge within communities, and access to financial services and market opportunities between urban and rural areas, and across borders and between countries.
Owing to the pandemic, national launch events of the platform will be held either virtually or as a hybrid of virtual and conventional launches. Launches in eight other COMESA Member States are planned.