The 6th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF) follow-up event took place on the 5th June 2018, during the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels. Under the theme "Women in Business: the African perspective", this session focused on women entrepreneurs in Africa, and discussed challenges faced and possible solutions, highlighting best practices to be replicated and scaled-up.
Aimed at building on the results and outcomes of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum – held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on 27 November 2017 – this session addressed how women and girls can highly contribute to global growth and job creation in key economic sectors for the African continent: namely agriculture and agribusiness, digital economy, renewable energy and MSMEs.
The session was opened by Koen Doens, Deputy Director General for the International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission, who praised the success of women entrepreneurship, lauding their resilience and effectiveness as agents of change. During the debate moderated by Luisa Santos, Director of Business Europe, several issues were openly discussed by an exclusively women panel which notably included two African women entrepreneurs – Yvonne Faye, General Manager of Energy R and Nafy Diagne, Founder of Awalebiz – who shared their stories, the perceived challenges, their insights into difficulties and successful solutions.
The panel also included Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa's Minister of Small Business Development, Maria Shaw Barragon, Director of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Agnes Kalibata, President of Alliance for a Green revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Christine Leurquin, Vice President of institutional relations and communications at Société Européenne des Satellites (SES).
Discussing Africa's economic challenges, as well as the need and the means to break down the barriers faced by women in particular in creating businesses in Africa, the speakers stressed the following key points:
- Gender, jobs and investment are at the top of the EU-Africa political agenda;
- African women are resilient and entrepreneurial, and seek to invest more in the next generation than men;
- Societal mindset change will drive inclusive growth and job creation;
- Digitalisation is a great enabler to engage women in business;
- Poor infrastructure and connectivity are holding African businesses back.
The African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko concluded the session, calling for a closer cooperation between Africa and the European Union towards Africa's economic and infrastructure development and women's access to key economic sectors on the continent.
Report on the Highlights from the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum 2017
The session resumed the discussion started at the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum of November 2017, which brought together over 1000 representatives of African and European businesses, investors and political leaders. A recently published Highlights report features an overview and analysis of the strategic discussions during 30 sessions around the overall theme of “Investing in Job Creation for Youth”.