This is a statement by H.E. Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission At Opening of the African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) 2022 held in Cairo, Egypt, on 26 September 2022

Allow me to express my sincere appreciation for being afforded the opportunity to address you at this opening ceremony of the African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) 2022. I bring you greetings and good wishes from H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission who also wishes to congratulate you for organising such a timely event.

Africa’s women and youth are generally the most curious, innovative and adaptable of the continent’s population. Statistics reveal that they are 1.6 times more likely than any other demographic to become entrepreneurs and innovators. We also know that they are the driving force of the informal, micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (IMSMEs) which are key to economic growth in Africa, accounting for around 80 per cent of the continent’s businesses, and a major source of job creation in Africa.

The AWIEF being an award-winning woman economic empowerment organization that supports women entrepreneurs in Africa to grow their business and fulfil their potential, has mobilized over 15,000 participants in its conferences from 47 countries on the continent, with over 2,000 AWIEF program alumni since 2015. The AWIEF has the goal of fostering women’s economic inclusion, advancement and empowerment through entrepreneurship support and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The forum’s theme for this year is “Advancing Africa Through Gender Integration” and this serves as an opportunity to speak about the Women and Youth Financial and Economic Inclusion Initiative (WYFEI 2030) to key partners and stakeholders in this forum which similarly aims to unlock financing and opportunities for African women and youth entrepreneurs, specifically by unlocking USD100 billion for at least 10 million African women and youth entrepreneurs by leveraging and building on existing initiatives and financial instruments both in the public and private sector, amongst others, that seek to financially and economically empower women and youth.

WYFEI 2030 is a programmatic response of the African Union Commission to the African Women’s Decade 2020-2030. The purpose of the Decade is to promote equality between men and women by accelerating the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of African women, in line with Agenda 2063 and regional policy frameworks. This requires the mobilization of financial resources from all possible sources; including bilateral and multilateral partners, non-governmental organizations and other parties in order to provide support to AU Member States.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As such, this forum hits the nail on the head with its mandate to foster gender integration on the continent as a strategy for Africa’s development. It is my hope that entrepreneurs, start-ups, thought leaders, policymakers, international development partners, investors, CSOs, academia and media will plug into this great initiative. As we consider the ways in which gender integration can drive our development, allow me to draw your attention to multi-level actions proposed by the WYFEI 2030 strategy to enhance the financial and economic inclusion of African women and youth.

  • At the micro-level, the initiative seeks to increase income of women and youth by supporting entrepreneurship and advocating for parity in employment.
  • At the systems level, it calls for action to be taken to support the development of transaction platforms as well as make the necessary adjustments to provide an enabling regulatory environment
  • At the environment level, WYFEI 2030 calls for market access and macro- economic policies that will enhance the creation and sustainability of jobs and makes a strong case for women and youth to have access to factors of production.

I would like to encourage AWIEF members and other distinguished guests present today to identify ways to support the implementation of WYFEI 2030 as we work towards gender integration – which requires us to level the playing field for women and Youth by ensuring matters of inclusion are addressed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Throughout the duration of this forum I encourage you to be purposely and actively engaged in all of the sessions; the sharing of experiences will allow for our policy interventions to be strengthened and more responsive.

I encourage us to take advantage of platforms such as these and collaborate in coming up with key actions and steps towards women’s economic empowerment.

In closing, I would like to commend the African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum in partnership with Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation and co-organiser Egyptian Businessmen’s Association for taking this powerful crop of African women under your wing and convening this very necessary forum to help them to make a difference within the innovation and entrepreneurship space across the African continent. It is now my pleasure to wish you a fruitful discussions and interactions. The African Union Commission looks forward to the dynamic collaboration that will surely be a result of this gathering.

Thank you for your kind attention.