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When Women Win, Africa Wins

Those were the words of Susan Okoh; Principal Officer Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) East Africa, during the WONDER Program launch at E4Impact Foundation Nairobi Centre on Friday 3rd March 2023. Every speaker who took the stage brought a light bulb moment to the audience as to the importance of indeed bridging the finance and investment gap for women in Africa; the purpose for which AFAWA – an initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) exists.

The strength of African women was celebrated and FatmaElmaawy; the 2nd Vice President of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) crowned this by stating that despite women’s challenges, they keep rising. “We get bottled down but still, we rise” – she added. While some women entrepreneurs forming the 1st cohort of the program acknowledged that running a business as a woman is a difficult journey, they also expressed confidence that with the right support, they will eventually change the world. Mario Brataj; the Programme Officer Italian Agency for Development Cooperation expressed his excitement as he looked ahead to the impact this collaboration is set to bring forth. The E4Impact Country Manager Kenya, Dr. Bernadette Mutinda reiterated that when a woman is educated, the community is; adding that E4Impact believes that it’s a great impact to empower, invest in and elevate women.

This event that most who attended termed as inspirational marked the start of a journey of impact through the partnership of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) and the E4Impact Foundation.

Noting that AFAWAs initiative’s primary objective is to bridge the $42 billion finance gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa and to unlock their entrepreneurial capacity and full potential, the WONDER Program; whose first phase is being implemented in Kenya and Cameroon, aims at strengthening the capacity of 150 women entrepreneurs (90 – Kenya, 60 – Cameroon), through training to enhance business productivity and growth; in a period of 3 years. The implementing partner E4Impact Foundation is a leading Alliance of universities, companies, and institutions to grow a new generation of African impact entrepreneurs and to promote partnerships between Europe and Africa. Its main aim is to enhance the sustainable development of fast-growing economies by training impact entrepreneurs and scaling the growth of their businesses. The foundation has a presence in 22 countries under eight centres; E4Impact Centre in Kenya, which is sponsored by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, is one of the eight centres.

Key people attending this launch were 26 women entrepreneurs who form the 1st cohort of the program and from their speeches and exhibition, there was a clear demonstration of the possibility of women indeed changing the world given, what they termed as, the right kind of support. As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day focusing on Embracing Equity, we note that the agenda to empower, invest in and elevate women is an International conversation. Some Italian nationals attending the event pointed out that it was a very important event to reaffirm the strength and empowerment of women in 2023; and that it covered a very timely and heartfelt topic for Italy as well.

“In Italy today, there is a lot of effort to raise awareness under these topics but there is a long way to go. Today’s event, in my opinion, reflects what the future will be: no longer male-driven, but finally with proud and passionate women at the helm. A diverse world in which there is room for everyone” – one of the nationals said.

Some of the guests attending the event were Susan Okoh; Principal Officer AFAWA East Africa, Mario Brataj – Programme Officer – Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Fatma Elmaawy – 2nd Vice President Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Albertina Muema – Country Investment Manager MISSIO Invest, Elizabeth Wasunna – Director Business Banking Absa Bank Kenya, Nadia Abdalla – former Chief Administrative Secretary ICT, Innovation & Youth Affairs (and founder of She Breaks Bias Africa), Joy Matwale -Innovation Community Manager World Food Programme Kenya among others.

As E4Impact, we are honored to be implementing this program in Kenya as we continue staying true to our mission of building impact entrepreneurs.

By Wanjiru Kaburu

Communication & Marketing Lead, E4Impact Foundation – Nairobi Centre

Media Mentions

Citizen TVhttps://twitter.com/citizentvkenya/status/1631732099811082273?t=cyg_pPwwB61oN-vhWrErNw&s=08

Citizen Digital: https://www.citizen.digital/news/150-women-in-kenya-cameroon-to-benefit-from-affirmative-fund-by-africa-development-bank-n315462

KTN News: https://youtu.be/9gX8HPw0P0A

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