Leading women entrepreneurs across Africa share their insight

To mark the 5th anniversary of its high-profile annual conference, the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), has launched a prestigious publication, AWIEF Insights, celebrating and acknowledging the contribution made by women leaders, businesswomen and entrepreneurs across the Pan-African continent.

AWIEF Insights is a glossy, magazine-style publication where leading women in Africa share their personal journeys, provide insight into their challenges and give advice to young women at the start of their careers. These leading women in Africa are:

  • E. Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, former President of Mauritius and a scientist who is a global authority on biodiversity.
  • Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and UN Undersecretary General.
  • E. Zanele Mbeki, founder, Women’s Development Bank and former First Lady of South Africa.
  • Wendy Luhabe, economic activist and social entrepreneur, South Africa.
  • Magda Wierzycka, CEO, Sygnia Group South Africa.
  • Dr Nevine Abdelkhalek, Vice President ECG Engineering Consultants Group, Egypt.
  • Gina Din-Kariuki, Executive Chair, Gina Din Group, Kenya.

Key women thought leaders in business also write about the Africa they want and how women must claim their seat at the Boardroom table – or redesign the table. These include: Robyn de Villers, Chairman and CEO, BCW Africa; Lebo Madiba, Managing Partner: Influence, Ogilvy Johannesburg; Eleni Giokos, CNN Business Africa Correspondent; Odette van der Haar, Managing Director, Publicis Africa; and Mimi Kalinda, Group CEO, Africommunications Group.

“With AWIEF Insights, we wanted to celebrate and acknowledge great women leaders on the continent, across the political, civil society and business sphere, by asking them to share their leadership journeys and their wisdom to inspire women entrepreneurs across the continent; as well as provide encouragement to younger women entrepreneurs,” says Irene Ochem, Founder and CEO of AWIEF.

“Their writing benchmarks the struggles women leaders go through to earn their place at the boardroom table or in leading Government, and is deeply moving at times. South Africa’s former first lady, Zanele Mbeki’s heartfelt story about her incredible journey in exile across Africa during Apartheid, tells us that, ‘every generation learns more from the past and from the institutions they are able to access’. As Dr Vera Songwe writes for us, ‘no one can climb this mountain alone’. She advocates the pursuit of excellence to achieve greatness as a collective effort,” Ochem recounts.

Many of the women writing for AWIEF Insights talk about passion and trusting ourselves as women. Sygnia CEO, Magda Wierzycka, says, “you need to be passionate about what you are doing to succeed”; and Ogilvy Managing Partner, Lebo Madiba, says female intuition is our “superpower”. Publicis Africa MD, Odette van der Haar, writes that, “everyone has to be an entrepreneur” as that is where Africa’s job creation and economic stimulation will come from.

Additional articles unpack entrepreneurship trends in Africa in the light of Africa’s economic acceleration; how to prepare Africa for 2050 and turn challenges into opportunities; building trusted brands across the continent; and how the media can support female entrepreneurship. Young women entrepreneurs making an impact after participating in AWIEF’s programmes, relate their entrepreneurship milestones.

AWIEF’s annual Conference, Expo and Awards took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), 29-30 October 2019 for the advancement of women in Africa as innovators and entrepreneurs. Sponsors include: Shell, Nedbank, CTA, City of Cape Town, AGRA, OCP Group, TIA, SEDA, USAID, and the APO Group.

More than 60 African and global thought leaders across business and politics shared insight and thought leadership. The conference theme this year was, Enhancing Impact: Digitalisation, Investment and Intra-African Trade. AWIEF 2019 Keynote speakers include: Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Arunma Oteh, Academic Scholar, Oxford University and former Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank; and Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Chancellor Nelson Mandela University and former Vice President and Special Envoy on gender to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

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