Covid-19 Response: Global Leaders Call for Immediate Investment Targeted at Women Entrepreneurs in Africa

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To ensure that women entrepreneurs are not forgotten in post pandemic economic policies in Africa, Nigeria’s leading impact investment platform, SME.NG, and the Funding Space, in partnership with global public relations and research firm Baobab Consulting, convened over 300 stakeholders digitally for a high level conversation entitled “Rethinking Investing in Women Entrepreneurs in Africa Post COVID-19” on April 30,2020.

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“Women need an influx of capital now; we need an economic vaccine as much as a medical vaccine.” Thelma Ekiyor, Managing Partner, SME.NG.

While at the global level policy debates have traditionally been held in person, SME.NG, the Funding Space, and Baobab Consulting saw the urgency given the global pandemic to hold an online discussion to spark action to support women entrepreneurs.

The convening’s keynote address was delivered by the Sixth President of Mauritius H.E. Ameenah Gurib Fakim, who brilliantly highlighted the challenges women entrepreneurs across the continent face compared to their male counterparts, but also cited that technology, artificial intelligence and more social protections at a government level can save women owned businesses. According to Ms Gurib Fakim, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Women must innovate, plan and pivot to succeed. “

Following the keynote, an expert panel discussion allowed leaders in government, academia, investments and civil society to build out recommendations for how to support African women entrepreneurs. Panelists included Managing Partner of SME.NG, Ms Thelma Ekiyor, President and CEO of the US African Development Foundation C.D. Glin, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution Prof. Landry Signe, and the Founder and Executive Director of the African Diaspora Network in Silicon Valley Ms. Almaz Negash, moderated by CEO of Baobab Consulting Liz Grossman Kitoyi.

While the panel recognized that the global health crisis requires businesses to take proper precautions, Ms Ekiyor made the case for immediate action by governments, donors and investors. “Women need an influx of capital now; we need an economic vaccine as much as a medical vaccine.” Cash transfers must be made immediately to keep women led SMEs afloat, and all the panelists agreed that governments must put women at the forefront of stimulus packages they prepare for small businesses.

One thing that has not changed in the wake of COVID-19 is the business case for investing in women. The speakers all agreed that an emergency fund should be established for women-owned businesses, urging decision makers to seize the opportunity to alleviate poverty and survive this global crisis by including women in investment policies.

The recording of the event and H.E. Gurib Fakim's speech transcript are available online. For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact liz@baobab-consulting.net.

About the organizers:

SME.NG is an impact investment platform that invests in Nigerian SMEs to realize measurable environmental, social and financial returns. The platform’s approach to SME financing is through a “blended financing” model, which will leverage private capital, public sector investments and philanthropic giving.

The Funding Space is an access to finance, impact investing, training and networking platform. The Funding Space convenes to inspire, challenge, support access to funding & financing to enhance the growth of locally grown innovations and enterprises in Nigeria that use “market solutions to address social problems”.

Baobab Consulting is an Africa-focused social impact firm offering world-class services in strategic communications, strategic counsel and research, and intercultural programming. With a diverse team of experienced consultants based in seven countries across three continents, Baobab Consulting has built a reputation as expert cross-cultural communicators who utilize digital media, training and research to promote equitable international collaboration in business, politics, social advocacy and education.    

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Liz Grossman-Kitoyi
@baobabglobal
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