Thursday, April 12, 2018, was held the 1st West Africa Regional Summit in Dakar, organized by Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative, the first international platform dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women. An unprecedented event to support women’s entrepreneurship in Africa
“Women Entrepreneurs in Africa: How to Leverage?”
It is on this strategic theme for the future of the continent that Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative has chosen to structure its first West Africa Regional Summit. The choice of Dakar was obvious as Senegal embodies the dynamism of women’s entrepreneurship. April 12, 2018 will be a landmark in terms of entrepreneurship.
The 167 women and men present, from 15 different nationalities, actively contributed throughout the sessions to feed the debate with relevance. The time has come to accelerate the accompaniment and networking of the new generation of African women so that they can express their tremendous potential for an innovative and inclusive Africa. As Aude de Thuin, Women In Africa initiative Founder and President, reminded: “It is in response to these imperatives that Women In Africa Initiative is positioning itself on the one hand as an innovative digital platform dedicated to the economic development and support of the new generation of African women; on the other hand, as the first network of personalities and expertise created for the empowerment of women in the 54 African countries.”
The choice of the School of Sands was obvious for the Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative team, Germaine Acogny, historical figure of dance in Africa, world-renowned for her art and founder of the school, “it took the audacity of Aude de Thuin to organize this first Regional Summit in this place of sharing with particular vibrations”. Germaine Acogny also said that her own daring enabled her to realize her artistic and entrepreneurial dream.
During the plenary session (on the theme: Africa, an example for the world in terms of women’s entrepreneurship?) Fatoumata Ba, Founder and CEO of Janngo Africa but also Goodwill Ambassador of the WIA Philanthropy Foundation, passionate about entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment, stated that “in West Africa, the first trigger for women was inspiration, the second was education and the third was technology. The digital haunts me because it makes it easy for enterprising African women to export themselves outside their borders or even the continent. But this technology that accelerates and develops local projects of women entrepreneurs does not replace these women!” !
She added, “My greatest pride is to have managed an African group (Jumia) with a parity of 50%”
For Nimna Diaité, President of the Federation of Saloum Corn Producers (FEPROMAD), which has the status of a cooperative and federates 28 local farmers’ networks comprising 2558 producers, including 1087 women, “When a woman decides to succeed, she succeeds”.
Participant Ndèye Thiaw in this panel , Managing Partner at Brightmore Capital says, based on her experience, that “the lever for action for women is primarily political and that for this purpose it takes a different type of ministry than that of the female condition”. Driven by a strong commitment to contribute to the development of the private sector and the realization of innovative investments with a social and profitable impact, she said that with the investment fund Brightmore Capital “she analyzes projects carried by women in social indicators as much as in financial indicators. We are looking at the whole value chain.”. After several initiatives in entrepreneurship, she confirms that her experience has taught her not to be afraid of failure.
For Tidjane Deme, partner at Partch Ventures (and former Google head for Francophone Africa in Dakar), “African countries, starting with Senegal, must understand that if they want to develop, it is women who must be supported.”. He also explains that “one of the levers for accelerating the development of projects led by African women entrepreneurs is that they agree to open their capital to investment funds. It’s relevant and useful.”
Socio-anthropologist, Director of the Gender and Scientific Research Laboratory of IFAN, President of RASEF (African Network for the Support of African Entrepreneurship) and coordinator of the Caucus of Women Leaders of Senegal, Fatou Sow Sarr explains that “Public policies should contribute to a better environment for women entrepreneurs, and especially their family areas, to be in a position to ensure the proper development of their activities.”
In this first session, which introduces a dialogue and transmission between two generations of African women, Amy Sarr Fall, Director of Intelligence Magazine (and one of Africa’s most popular social media personalities) said that “her deepest belief is that there is nothing stronger than education and regarding this, there is still a lot of effort to do in Africa and in the world.”. She then introduced Fatou Khoulé Seck, high school student involved in inclusive education who impressed the audience with the strength of her convictions and ambitions.
The other two AKWABA sessions brought together Dr. Aïsha Conte, founding manager of NYARA, and a young woman who is very active in the field of local products processing and valuation, Camo Kane. Germaine Acogny then introduced Alesandra Seutin, a young choreographer who spoke with a beautiful dance and song referring to the genocide.
After lunch, Aïssa Maiga, actress and producer, reminded that it was “the responsibility of countries and governments to integrate cultural activities as a lever for economic development and outreach and that Senegal could be seen as a business model considering all the potential in our country.”.
The 167 participants exchanged and shared their ideas and practical solutions to leverage women’s entrepreneurship in Africa, led by Ivan Gavriloff, CEO of Kaos Consulting and Sophie Troff, consultant. There were strong recommendations and the restitution of this session will be made in the form of advocacy at the World Summit of Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative in Marrakech on 27 and 28 September.
Beliefs and Behavior, led by Nadia Mensah Acogny and Gilles Acogny, co-founders of Acosphere, and “Women and entrepreneurs: listening to our voice, learning to listen” led by Gnylane Thiam Traore, consultant and director of DevNetWork Africa in Dakar, have each in their own way explained how everyone has the power to transform their limiting thoughts, that self-confidence is working on a daily basis, recalling by the way how the development of soft skills constitutes a major lever of success and fulfillment for women leaders and high potential.
Closing Ceremony : official launch of Project 54’s call for applications, sponsored by the WIA Philanthropy Foundation
Project 54 will be the result of the call for applications (May 10, 2018), the first delegation of women entrepreneurs coming from all 54 countries of the continent. “Supporting women who disrupt the future of the continent through technological innovation is a win-win and sustainable investment for Africa’s international economies,” said Marine Liboz Thomas, President of the WIA Philanthropy Foundation. ” If entrepreneurship has become a quasi-fashionable phenomenon among the young generation in Europe and the United States, African women choose entrepreneurship to contribute to the structural development of their country and often, unfortunately, also as a matter of survival. We have much to learn from the great resilience of these women who will build the future of the continent, through innovations and disruptive technologies. Their talents and projects must be brought to light and accompanied. They could offer us unsuspected outlook!” She continues.
Marine Liboz Thomas also announced that Fatoumata Ba, Founder and General Manager of Janngo Africa is the Goodwill Ambassador of WIA Philanthropy and Edith Brou, CEO of Africa Contents Group and Founder of buzzyafrica.com, is the 1st Digital Goodwill Ambassador of WIA Entrepreneurs’ Club – Project 54.
Project 54, continent-wide deployment of the WIA Philanthropy Foundation, is conducted in collaboration with the strategy consulting firm Roland Berger and Société Générale, a French multinational banking and financial services company, which is highly involved on the subject of entrepreneurship in Africa. The 54 women winners will receive international visibility and targeted support at the Women In Africa Initiative Summit (WIA) in Marrakech on 27 and 28 September.
Crédit photo : Rémi Schapman