On the occasion of the official visit of the French President to Ethiopia, CAWEE jointly with the Presidential Council for Africa (CPA) organized a side event on “Empowerment of African Women” on March 13, 2019 at Alliance Franciase, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Present at the side event were the nine members of the Presidential Council together with Ethiopian women entrepreneurs and few men that support the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship. In total seventy (70) people took part in the side event.
The side event started in a welcoming remark delivered by the Director General of Alliance Franciase, which was followed by a remark delivered by Diane Binder, one of the members of the Presidential Council, where she underlined President Macron’s commitment to women in Africa, his priority concern on African women empowerment, with a focus to addressing the challenges that women entrepreneurs in different sectors face.
Following was remark delivered by the other member of the Presidential Council, Vanessa Moungar, where she underlined the importance of a holistic approach that includes capacity building, policy advocacy and access to finance, in providing support to women entrepreneurs.
Following the remarks delivered by the two representatives of the Presidential Council, the Executive Director of CAWEE, Nigest Haile, briefly introduced CAWEE, its achievements and contributions in economically empowering women operating in different sectors. With a focus to the President Macron’s agenda in the promotion of women entrepreneurs, she mentioned that CAWEE, with all its track records and recorded achievements, can be the lead partner in working on the areas of capacity building and in organizing policy dialogue forums. She also mentioned that, CAWEE has started partnering with HEC-Paris, a leading business school, ranked as one of the best business schools in the world, reached to an agreement to work together in building the capacities of women entrepreneurs.
At the side event, brief presentation was also made by Enat Bank, represented by Abeba Tesfaye, Head, Women in Finance Department, on women’s access to finance and how the Bank has started to contribute to the development of women entrepreneurs in the country.
The presentation focused on the unique services that the Bank is providing to women entrepreneurs.
During the presentation, Enat Bank got lots of acknowledgements from participant companies that benefited from the loan services of the Bank.
In contributing their part at the event, women entrepreneurs were given time to share their testimonies, perceptions, opportunities, constraints/challenges that they faced, successes and failures. Women entrepreneurs involved in different sectors (tourism, beauty, manufacturing, pottery, honey, education, and food) contributed, mentioning the different challenges that each one of them faced and their expectations from the support expected from the President of France in supporting African women entrepreneurs.
During the side event, participants were divided into five different groups, where members of the Presidential Council were also part of the group discussions. The group discussions focused on identifying possible collaborations between women entrepreneurs, CAWEE, Enat Bank, French public institutions as well as French private companies, where the group discussions came out with different ideas for future actions.
Parallel to the side event, mini-exhibition was organized for the members of the Precedential Council, to show case some of the products and services produced and provided by CAWEE members and partner organizations.
Some of the products exhibited were: green coffee, coffee honey, food (gluten free products), products of Little Gabies, leather products, jewellery and flowers. Some of the services exhibited were: tourism (where travel Ethiopia show cased) and Enat Bank, CAWEE’s partner company.
In wrapping up the major outcomes of the discussion as well as the opinions from the different group discussions, Diane from the Presidential Council summarized that as follows, for potential collaborations in facilitating:
Diane, following her wrap-up, delivered her brief closing remark underlining to the participants that, the Presidential Council for Africa will submit to President Marcon the findings and the outcomes of the side event and closely follow-up on the way forward.
In closing the side event, Nigest thanked the Presidential Council for Africa for their commitment in taking time to meet and discuss with Ethiopian women entrepreneurs. She also thanked all the participants of the side event, for their valuable contributions. Wishing the team safe flight back home, Nigest underlined that, the continued commitment of the Presidential Council members will be crucial for the practical implementations of the opinions forwarded by Ethiopian women entrepreneurs.