The 3rd Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative annual World Summit defined how African business women can take the lead

    • Marrakesh – At the 3rd Women in Africa Annual Summit held in
      Marrakech June 27th and 28th, 2019, the delegates coming from more than 80 countries agreed
      that African women need to take the leading role in defining how they want to develop business
      with the rest of the world.
      “Together we are and we will change the centuries’ old story of Africa through the magic of
      women from all part of Africa, from Asia, the Middle East and America and from the few men
      who have understood that we are changing Africa for the greater good of all of us,” said Women
      in Africa President Hafsat Abiola.
      The ‘greater good’ was symbolized by the exceptional presence of Alaa Salah, the 22-year-old
      Sudanese student, now known throughout the world as the Lady Liberty of Sudan after she
      spoke up in a demonstration demanding the installation of a democratic and civilian government
      in her country. As she did last April, she reminded the audience the poem she read, standing
      fearless on top of a car: “It is not the bullet that kills; What kills is the silence of people.”
      The 550 women and men leaders, representing the economic, governmental, cultural and civil
      society from more than 80 countries never kept silent during the Women In Africa third annual
      summit and the parallel WIA54 program dedicated to laureate women entrepreneurs coming
      from every African country but one. The Women in Africa annual conference welcomed for
      the first-time official delegations from the United States, the Middle East and Asia. Together,
      they worked on the theme: “How African Women Engage the World and Create a New
      “If you get theright people together and get them engaged on subjects, great things happen,”
      said the Kuwaiti Princess Intisar Al Sabah who attended the conference along with a
      delegation from her home country. “From the opening speech, the whole subject was: ‘let us
      collaborate for a better Africa and a better world.’ This set everyone’s mood to engage and
      collaborate with one another.”
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      Three specific sessions addressed how Africa can revisit its business relationships with
      America, Asia, and Europe.
      “We have to stop thinking ‘charity’ when we talk about women of Africa,” said Aude de Thuin
      founder of Women in Africa and of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society. “The
      only message is, ‘women in the economy are at the same level as men,’” de Thuin added.
      If Africa has done a lot of work in terms of empowering its population to be able to scale up
      and create a wealthy continent, there remains a gap in how the rest of the world understands the
      kind of development Africa is going through.
      The presence of Africa and of African women in the media around the world appeared to be
      one of the two key paths toward creating a new paradigm. As American television anchor and
      lawyer Star Jones explained, it is urgent that Africa, and especially African women write their
      own narrative. “In other words, you do not want to allow the news media to dictate how the
      world sees you,” Jones said. “You write your own narrative and you tell the world who you
      “Africa is capable of producing its own images and telling its own stories,” added Denise
      Epoté, Regional Director for TV5 in Africa.
      The other path to a new paradigm is to take the lead of professional investment prospection in
      Asia, beyond India and China through a demanding process that includes transparency and
      positive social impact.
      Acknowledging the growing diversity of African-Asian economic exchange, delegates agreed
      that Europeans need to revisit their own business relationships with African countries and
      corporations to remain competitive.
      The new African paradigm was also implemented at Women in Africa by the 53 women
      entrepreneur laureates of WIA54 2019, an initiative launched by WIA Philanthropy Foundation
      and aimed at high-potential African women entrepreneurs who are creating tomorrow’s Africa.
      They all participated in a two-day series of training workshops to guide them on the
      fundamentals of a startup at the crucial moments of its development.
      “Africa is the only region in the world where more women than men choose an entrepreneurial
      career, a reality that underscores the work of Women in Africa Philanthropy, which we are
      proud to sponsor for the second consecutive year,” said Société Générale CEO Frédéric Oudéa
      in closing of the summit. “Opening a field of possibilities to the feminine dynamic will have a
      certain impact on the future of the African continent.”
      “The 53 Women Entrepreneurs represent every country of Africa but Eritrea,” explained its
      program manager Seynabou Thiam. “They were selected among 1,800 applicants, which
      confirms the force of women entrepreneurship in Africa,” Thiam explained.
      “These young women entrepreneurs represent the future of not only their countries but the
      future of Africa and the world,” said WIA54 Godmother Ann Walker Marchant, founder of
      The Walker Marchant Group in Washington D.C. and a former White House Special Assista
    to President Bill Clinton. “They are innovative, creative and fierce. They are breaking glass
    ceilings and changing the perception of business in Africa. These fresh faces are the future.
    Seven of the 53 WIA54 2019 were also honored and their projects distinguished on seven
    different themes during a ceremony that started and concluded with a spontaneous enthusiastic
    and emotional party:
    Ley Zoussi (Republic of Congo) in agriculture for Complete Farmer and her community
    agriculture platform;
    Gladys Nelly Kimani (Kenya) on digital for Class Teacher Network and her application
    that digitizes the school path;
    Fadzayi Chiwandire (South Africa) in education for DIV:A Initiative, her NGO that
    teaches young girls how to code;
    Ehiaghe Aigiomawu (Nigeria) in fintech, for Vesicash and her instant escrow
    Corine Maurice Ouattara (Ivory Coast) in health, for her Mousso Health Pass, the
    digital medical record on connected bracelets;
    Mariam Sherif (Egypt) in environment, for Reform Studio, her eco-friendly design
    Grace Camara (Sierra Leone) for social innovation, with RemitFund, which transforms
    the African diaspora funds’ transfers into social investments.
    Roland Berger and Women In Africa published on this occasion their third study on African
    Women Entrepreneurs. Although Africa has more women entrepreneurs than any of the other
    continents (24% of women are entrepreneurs), African business women could make their
    startup companies more sustainable and profitable if access to professional training, support,
    telecommunications and banking structures were developed.
    Other personalities such as Awa Ndiaye Seck (UN Women), Cathia Lawson Hall (Société
    Générale), Viviane Onano (Leading Light Initiative), Swaady Martin (Yswara), Alyse
    Nelson (President of Vital Voices), Rokia Traoré (singer-songwriter and cultural
    entrepreneur), Aïssata Diakité (Zabaan Holding), Francine Ntoumi, Oby Ezekwesili
    (#BringBackOurGirls) and Veronica Colondam (YCAB Foundation) participated in
    conversations that spanned from financial inclusion, women in science, arts & culture, the
    impact of climate change, development of women’s leadership, investing in the new generation
    of young digital innovators, facilitating women’s access to finance and agriculture markets,
    corruption and gender among others
    Women in Africa also celebrated the African Man of the Year with the AMOYA 2019
    AMOYA: African Man Of the Year Award
    The AMOYA Award was presented this year to Younes El Mechrafi, Director General of the
    Moroccan Games and Sport (MDJS) and Vice-President Africa of the World Federation
    Federation for Company Sport.
    “This award recognizes Younes El Mechrafi’s commitment to women’s sport through the
    MDJS,” said de Thuin.
    Indeed, the MDJS supports and sponsors initiatives for the inclusion of women in sport:
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    The association “Women, Achievements and Values”, chaired by Moroccan track and
    field champion Nezha Bidouane, organizes women’s races to mobilize and raise awareness on
    the importance of physical exercise.
    The Aicha des Gazelles rally
    Rabat Bike, for women’s cycling in Rabat
    TIBU Women’s Camp, which offers intensive basketball courses
    The Sahrawi women’s solidarity raid in Dakhla
    African Agricultural Woman of the Year Award
    “Women play a major role in agricultural production and product processing, and their role is
    essential in the development of food security,” explained Abiola.
    In 2020, Women in Africa and Moroccan company OCP will present for the first time the
    African Agricultural Woman of the Year Award to recognize in Africa and beyond a woman
    leader in agriculture for her good practices and innovative solutions.
    The work of Women in Africa has also been made possible thanks to an engaged network of
    34 Ambassadors, and 22 of them traveled to Marrakesh this year from faraway places such as
    Djibouti and Colombia. For the two days preceding the summit, OCP hosted this group of
    committed senior women leaders at their Polytechnique University Mohammed VI of Benguérir
    for a series of brainstorming meetings led by Roland Berger. WIA Ambassadors devised new
    actions and projects to reach out to women leaders throughout the African continent including
    the works of WIA Agriculture, WIA Education, WIA Mentoring and local debates on culture
    and education, thus conceiving new directions for Women in Africa.
    Closing the conference with a conversation with Alaa Salah, Abiola invited the activistwho
    studies architectureto become the first young leader of Women in Africa, a program to be
    launched in 2020 and told her that she has now a group of women leaders who will cheer for
    her to become a politician, and perhaps not in the distant future, President of Sudan. The
    delegates of Women in Africa actually did not wait: they jumped on the stage, and one after the
    other, they all gave Salah a hug.
    About WIA Initiative
    Officially launched in 2016, the Women in Africa Initiative (WIA) is the first international platform
    dedicated to the economic development and support of African women leaders who show the most
    potential. It comprises the WIA Club, which organizes meetings across the continent, the WIA
    Institute (data/study) and the WIA Philanthropy Foundation, which is committed to assisting women
    entrepreneurs. Its online media, WIA Mag, showcases and celebrates inspiring careers around the
    themes of Women – Africa – Business. On April 12, 2018, WIA Initiative successfully held its first
    West Africa Regional Summit in Dakar, Senegal. – #WIASUMMIT – #WIAInitiative – #Womenempowerment
    #WIAPhilanthropy#Projet54| #WIAPhilantropy
    Press Contact WIA
    Sophie Touchot
    +33 7 77 98 25 58


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