The highly anticipated West Africa Business Forum, a first of its kind initiative by the UNECA and Compass Global Consulting which happened from the 21st to the 23rd September 2021 was indeed an exceptional experience. The forum which was in collaboration with more than 15 coalition partners across the region featured multiple aspects of the economy, as well as a diverse range of discussions on how to harness Africa’s potential through youth and women empowerment.
Day 3 of the forum commenced with case studies of four African countries – Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, and Kenya, followed by a Sector Champion commendation speech by Mr. Tony Elemelu, CEO, Heir Holdings.
In a discussion with Mrs. Zainab Maidah, Founder and Director Niger Lait, Niger, she expressed why it’s significant to pay more attention to the agricultural sector and its economies. “Policies have to look closely to the agricultural space. It’s the key to the developmental success of the free trade zone”, she said.
Chair of the Services Sector Roundtable and Chairman Board of Trustees of Coderina Education & Technology Foundation, Mr. Femi Niyi speaking on how inclusion is paramount to economic growth, he stated that “when girls are women in leadership positions, they have role models to look up to”.
Speaking on the beauty industry and the role of advertisers and media in growing the economy, Mrs. Kofo Martins, CEO, Avi Beautysmith, emphasized that “the true African beauty is not necessarily being white-skinned. The media can also do a lot in educating what constitutes beauty, especially the African beauty”. She further reiterated that Africa has a unique heritage that can only be gotten in Africa. Other panel sessions cut across the Food and Processing, ICT & Digital Economy, Creative & Cultural, Services, and Agribusiness industries.
Sub-regional Director, West Africa UN Economic Commission of Africa, Mrs. Ngone Diop, outlined the key surveys that were carried out as part of the preparation for the forum. The survey was responded to by around 200 women and young people from various business sectors in West African countries. 82.6% of the responders were decision-makers, 64.2% were Micro businesses and 26.8% were small business owners. The majority of responders are in the Agro business, Agro-processing, beauty products manufacturing sector at 24%. During the three-day forum, participants conducted in-depth reflections on the actions and potential opportunities to engage Women and Youth in Business. It revealed that internship and mentorship programs have to be adopted, quality foundational education, training hubs to improve skills for women and youths, internet availability, and early enrollment of the girl-child into tech. She further concluded that the West Africa Business Linkages Platform was launched to support the growth and sustainability of Women and Youth Entrepreneurship. The purpose of the linkage platform is to Connect, Build, and Transform our enormous resources endowment; building business linkages and bringing transformation and change in West Africa. Tokunbo Chiedu, CEO, Compass Global in her vote of thanks described the forum as “the Olympics of our career”. She expressed how major this forum is, as well as its impact on developments to come. Her profound gratitude was also expressed to all coalition partners and all teams who have made the maiden edition of the forum a huge success and a very strong footprint to follow. For more information, please contact Tokunbo Chiedu, CEO, Compass Global – firstname.lastname@example.org