Egypt became the latest country to formally commence the implementation of the 50 Million African Women Speak Project (50MAWSP) on 21 August 2019, joining over 30 other states across the continent on an initiative to empower women entrepreneurs through a digital networking platform.
The launch of the 50 Million African Women Speak Project in Egypt took place in Cairo adding. The project aims at supporting African women in business through a platform which will provide easier access to information on financial and non-financial services, and in turn help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
It is a venture which is funded by the African Development Bank and is being jointly undertaken by three regional economic communities namely the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); East African Community (EAC) and; Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with a combined membership of 38 countries.
Presiding over the launch, the Board Chair of the Egyptian Women Council Amb. Mona Omar lauded the transformative potential of the project.
“Let me point out that the project has the potential to transform the role of women entrepreneurs in Egypt and Africa at large,” Amb. Omar said.
“We all agree that women play a critical role in the social economic development of our economies despite the numerous challenges, some gender specific, that they encounter,” she added, and explained that the 50 Million African Women Speak digital platform will be one way to overcome these challenges.
Studies have shown that Africa has a thriving start-up community with dynamic women entrepreneurs targeting new opportunities in sectors such as agriculture. One study has shown that Egyptian women account for at least 10% of all micro and small enterprises in the country. In addition, the African Economic Outlook 2017 also revealed that women in Africa are twice more likely to start a business than women elsewhere in the world.
The COMESA Director for Gender and Social Affairs Mrs. Beatrice Hamusonde who led the COMESA delegation at the launch explained that the platform development was now complete. The next step was updating the platform with content for the benefit of women entrepreneurs in the countries where the platform will be operational.
“Women entrepreneurs in Egypt and the region will use the platform to access information and linkages to business services, training and market opportunities,” Mrs. Hamusonde stated.
“The platform will build a community of existing and potential women entrepreneurs who will act as peers, mentors and advisors to each other. This will allow women to share lessons, success stories as well as conduct business online with counterparts in Africa and beyond”.
In a brief courtesy call, which preceded the official launch, Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry HE Amr Nassar affirmed his country’s commitment to the Project, stating: “I am a strong believer in the use of digital platforms to empower women.”
When complete, the platform aims at connecting at least 50 million women across the African continent, providing information to help them grow their businesses as well as giving them opportunities to connect through a variety of networking features.
The launch of the project implementation team in Egypt is the second such activity in the COMESA Member States this year. A similar launch was done in Eritrea at the end of June. Similar launches are in the pipeline for Libya and Tunisia.