TROPICS PRESS OFFICE – “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change, ” is the global theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. As one of its core priorities, the African Development Bank is promoting women’s entrepreneurship and innovation across the continent.
In Abidjan, today, more than 100 women entrepreneurs from Cote d’Ivoire assembled at the Bank’s headquarters for a closing ceremony, following their participation in master classes in business model development and financial planning earlier this year. The classes were organized by the Bank’s AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) program and Entreprenarium, a foundation specializing in providing business support and access to finance for women and young entrepreneurs across Africa.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vanessa Moungar, the Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, said, “Women play a key role in Africa’s communities and economies, yet they face multiple obstacles in accessing the same opportunities as men. We are committed to supporting women and removing all the barriers to unleash their creativity, innovation and transformative power”.
Throughout the month of March, the Bank will roll out various events to acknowledge the importance of strengthening women’s skills and building their entrepreneurial capacity.
Closing ceremonies will also take place in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15 March, and in Librevillle, Gabon, later this month. In total, more than 400 women entrepreneurs have attended master classes in the three countries.
Strengthening women’s digital skills is another of the key priorities of the programme. On 25 March 2019, the Bank will launch the first all-women training group of the Coding for Employment Program in Nigeria, set up to increase the number of women coders and accelerate gender equality and empowerment for women and girls in the digital era.
Across Africa, many women and girls continue to face significant barriers to accessing and using technology. This often results in low digital literacy and loss of economic opportunities for women. The Bank’s Coding for Employment program will equip 100 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 35 with the necessary Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills, as well as soft skills, to secure future employment opportunities.
Finally, the Bank will organize a workshop on 28-29 March 2019 in South Africa on affirmative procurement for women, to explore how to develop mechanisms to help women-led and women-run enterprises access Bank procurement contracts.
Beyond the month of March, the Bank engages in several initiatives to support women’s empowerment.
Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, is a pan-African initiative with an overarching objective of bridging the finance gap for women in Africa and unlocking their entrepreneurial capacity. AFAWA adopts a holistic approach through three pillars: strengthening access to financing for women-owned and women-led businesses, building the capacity of women entrepreneurs and financial institutions, as well as engaging with and supporting African governments to ensure legal, policy and regulatory reforms required to accelerate women’s entrepreneurship.
About Coding for Employment
The Coding for Employment Program is a flagship program of the African Development Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative. This strategy aims to put Africa’s youth on a path to prosperity by training 50 million youth in employable skills and creating 25 million jobs. Over the next decade, the Coding for Employment program, in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, aims to create 9 million jobs and train 234,000 youths in ICT skills (of which 50% will be women and girls). The program will create 130 ICT centers of excellence across the continent.