50 Million African Women Speak Platform Has Crucial Role In Empowering Women Entrepreneurs To Run Their Enterprises In Digital Environment.

By Betelhem Bedlu

Women in Africa are more likely to be entrepreneurs, than men. They make up 58 percent the continent’s self-employed population and women’s formal ownership of SMEs currently stands at around a third of all registered SMEs in Africa-and we know SMEs are estimated to account for over 90 percent of all firms outside of the agricultural sector in the region, says a document published recently.

The African Development recognizes the important role that women entrepreneurs play in the development and economic growth of our continent. However, African women business owners continue to face gender- specific legal, social and administrative barriers, even while Africa leads the world in terms of numbers of women business owners, it added. To end this and enable women access financial services get the required timely information and to flourish their business the application of digital technology is of paramount importance.

Taking this into consideration, the African Development Bank, along with African governments is working persistently to empower women entrepreneurs with digital technology. ’50 million African Women Speak’, a digital platform designed to contribute to the economic empowerment of women across Africa, is one of the initiative in this regard. Last Thursday, ‘Ethiopia’s 50 Million African Women Speak’ (50MAWSP) was held, here in Addis Ababa.

Launching the project, President Sahlework Zewde said that women encounter multilayered challenges while trying to engage in the business. Ranging from financial constraints and lack of market linkage to information ga, they face many challenges. The 50 Million African Women Speak Platform Has Crucial Role In Empowering Women Entrepreneurs To Run Their Enterprises In A Digital Environment.

As to her, inaccessibility of information coupled with absence of financial services, many women are employed in the informal works. However, the availability and accessibility of this platform enable them to have sufficient information and access the required services to join the formal sector.

Noting that the platform bridges information, financial and market gaps of women, she said the digital network will also bring multiple opportunities for women mostly engaged in informal businesses in Africa. Filsan Abdullahi, Minister of Women, Children and Youth mentioned that the platform which is a first-of-its kind continental network will create access to several facilities such as tools for business training, mentorship in addition to financial products, and market information. As to her, women globally engaged in “informal sector,” with insufficient payments and benefits. They are also more likely to work in industries which are hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and childcare.

Thus, the launching of the platform is also expected to assist in the realization of the targets set for women entrepreneurs’ in nation’s ten year development plan, she stressed. Dr. Abdul B. Kamara, Deputy Director General, East African Region of African Development Bank on his part stated that the platform is critical to empower the existing entrepreneurs and those women who aspire to run their own enterprises through using digital platform. As the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened, women in business encounter more challenges. This platform has the potential to alleviate those challenges, as to him.

The opportunities the ’50 Million African Women Speak’ platform present are immense, it was mentioned in the panel discussion. This platform is devised to impact 50 million women in the 38 countries across three regional economic blocs- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community, and the Economic Community of West African States- and funded by the African Development Bank. The platform was first launched last year in Kigali, Rwanda in the presence of President Sahlework Zewde during the Global Gender Summit.

The Ethiopian Herald 20 March 2021.

This news was originally published at All Africa.