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UN to promote digital entrepreneurship among women
December 14, 2017, 2:49 pm

The ‘Women and Girls Startup Challenge’, which was sponsored by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and held last week in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, urged countries on the continent to provide more opportunities and encouragement for female digital entrepreneurship.

Held under the theme of ‘Attempting innovative and inclusive female transformation’, the initiative aimed to promote digital entrepreneurship, economic empowerment and business projects for women, as well as to help marshal funds for young female digital entrepreneurs.

Speaking on the occasion, the Executive-Secretary of ECA, Vera Songwe, called on countries to give female creativity and innovation “all the opportunities required in order to bear fruits and achieve sustainable and inclusive development.”

She stressed that through collective commitment, girls and women should be supported to become, “key, dynamic and strategic digital stakeholders” through boosting their creativity. She promised the young entrepreneurs that she would “leave no stone unturned” in bringing together the private sector, policy-makers and associations to support the initiative. “Your success could trigger the launch of a larger continent-wide movement”, she said.

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.

Speaking on the sub-theme of female contribution to sustainable development through digitalization, Ms. Songwe said, “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 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.

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