The importance of African women's participation in business on the continent is one of the central themes of the fifth edition of the Africa CEO Forum held in Geneva on 20 and 21 March, the leading international gathering devoted to the development of Africa and its companies.
The forum hosts more than 1000 African and international personalities, as well as key African industrial, financial and political decision-makers, including about 200 business leaders from 43 African countries. Such influential business leaders include Sola David-Borha, our newly appointed Chief Executive Standard Bank: Africa Regions.
Africa’s ability to unleash the power of female entrepreneurs and start-up companies has become increasingly important in light of the fact that overall growth on the continent has slowed markedly from the economic boom enjoyed in the 2000s. Although certain countries, such as Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tanzania, are still performing well and achieving world-class results, overall growth for 2016 is expected at 3%, a far cry from the 6% achieved ten years ago, which calls for a more detailed analysis of the economic boom of the 2000s.
By holding the 2017 meeting under the theme Re-thinking Africa’s Business Model, the Africa CEO Forum has chosen to focus on the changes that must be made in order to succeed in this new economic cycle.
The major themes are:
Unleashing entrepreneurial energies, including those of start-ups, young and women entrepreneurs;
Increasing Africa’s attractiveness to international investors;
Improving the competitiveness of African stock exchanges; and
Encouraging the creation of more export-orientated activities
The forum will also feature more than 20 sessions that examine a number of practical issues that African companies face, including: digital transformation, fintechs, agribusiness, private equity, and the development of African champions or off-grid electricity.
African Women in Business initiative
The African Women in Business initiative will be made up of a high-level panel which will bring together the most influential women in the African private sector and the Chief Executives most active in promoting gender diversity.
Its goal is twofold: to identify the best strategies for increased female representation in business; and to highlight the career paths of the women who have shaped the African private sector.
“A greater representation of women in companies is crucial to the prosperity of the African private sector”, said Amir Ben Yahmed, the President of the Africa CEO Forum. “By creating the African Women in Business initiative, we have decided to put female leadership at the heart of our discussion.”
The African Women in Business initiative will also present the findings of the event’s knowledge partner, McKinsey & Company’s, report titled “Women Matter Africa”. This report sets out the progress made by the African private and public sectors in terms of women’s representation. While Africa equals – and even exceeds – international standards, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality.
By launching the African Women in Business initiative, the Africa CEO Forum is contributing to the implementation of concrete solutions for the improvement of gender diversity. It aims, to shake things up and push boundaries.