The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and East African Community (EAC), have concluded plans to connect about 50 million African women in business in the continent.
The initiative is a digital platform specifically designed to address the information needs of women in doing business, and connecting them via a custom-built social networking tool launched in Kigali, Rwanda.
The deal is based on financing by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and bridging the gap for women entrepreneurs across business value chains in sub-Saharan Africa, estimated at about $42 billion.
The partners said in a statement yesterday that the platform will provide information on starting and growing a business, and has a social networking for women entrepreneurs to learn from each other.
The initiative, which was unveiled during the Global Gender Summit in Kigali, primarily aims to help economically empower women by providing a one-stop shop for financial and non-financial services.
This will also enable women in 38 African countries to find information on running businesses, accessing financial services, create business opportunities online, and access training resources.
The statement read in part: “We believe that the creation of this platform is a very practical way of speaking to the general agenda of empowering women, and now we have come to a stage where we have practical initiatives such as this.”
It further added that women will have opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, and sharing information and knowledge, and it has potential to unleash a dynamic online community of women entrepreneurs.
It said: “Sixty five percent of the traded commodities in the East Africa come from agriculture, a sector that employs 80% of women. The platform will help big part of the population to expand market opportunities.
“It is technology-based because this is one of the issues we are trying to advance to make sure that we leverage on technology to have smart solutions that are reaching far more people.”