National focal points for the 50 Million African Women Speak platform (50MAWSP) met Tuesday 27 June to review progress on the implementation of the initiative in the COMESA Member States and East African Community (EAC) Partner States. It was the first-time focal points from the two regional economic communities (RECs) were brought together to jointly discuss ways to improve the platform.
The one-day meeting attracted focal points from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Opening the meeting, COMESA Director for Gender and Social Affairs Ms Beatrice Hamusonde thanked the focal points for their commitment to supporting the platform, which she said had contributed to its sustained growth.
“The women of Africa continue to endorse the 50 Million African Women Speak platform as a valuable tool for supporting their business needs, thereby affirming its viability as a vehicle for the economic empowerment of women and youth.
“As of December 2022, platform usage stood at approximately 375,000 users, up from 240,000 in December 2021. As of 31 May 2023, these numbers have grown to 470,000 users. This growth in no small part is owed to your efforts to promote the platform,” Ms Hamusonde said.
On her part, the EAC Principal Gender and Community Development Officer Ms Generose Minani lauded the move to conduct a joint meeting which would provide the Member and Partner States the opportunity to share updates on activities which have been undertaken, share experiences, and provide feedback.
The national focal points were urged to explore opportunities for increased promotion of the platform as well as funding of platform-related activities at national level. Among the proposals tabled during the meeting included enhancing platform accessibility for users with disabilities, organizing webinars to provide skilling for women and holding more regular review meetings.
The 50 Million African Women Speak platform is a women’s economic empowerment initiative which is jointly implemented by three RECs, namely COMESA, EAC and ECOWAS. It seeks to address the business information needs of women entrepreneurs and provides information or resources on starting and growing a business, market access, access to finance, business training and financial literacy, among others. It also boasts a social networking component which allows women to network with one another in real-time, showcase their goods and services and to learn from each other. The African Development Bank funded the first phase of the 50MAWSP.