The Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Ms. Vera Songwe has launched the Women and Girls Startup Challenge, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire to help promote female digital entrepreneurship, economic empowerment and business projects.
The fund also aims to help marshal funds for young female digital entrepreneurs. The Women and Girls Startup Challenge aims to give aspiring female entrepreneurs the opportunity to submit their projects online and to make a ten-minute presentation before a jury composed of seasoned professionals. Follow-up through mentorship or access to funding is also included.
In addition to the launch of the initiative, the Executive Secretary delivered remarks at the meeting, speaking on the sub-theme: “Contributing more efficiently to the sustainable development Agenda for girls and women through digitalization”.
“While digital evolution is not a panacea, its opportunities for an effective participation of women in sustainable development and the benefits that they can derive from this process are immeasurable,” she stated.
She noted that access and control of information on products, as well as the composition and other types of variables that are essential for the processing of these products, play a role in determining women’s participation in value chains – from production to market sales. “This is essential, not only for the structural transformation of the African economy, but also for return on investment,” she said.
The Director of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, Mr. Dimitri Sanga accompanied the Executive Secretary at the event.
The launch of the Women & Girls Startup Challenge falls within the context of the First Edition, of the “Femme, Numérique et Développement” (Woman, Digitilization and Development), also known as FENUD, which is the biggest event dedicated to girls and women in the ICT domain in Francophone Africa. The event was held in Abidjan from November 16 to 17, 2017.