Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGCAfrica) has selected Rwanda as the first country to spearhead and implement a new women entrepreneurship and business agenda that will be disseminated in ten African countries.
This was announced during the start of a pioneer training programme for 50 Women Entrepreneurs and Business Women CEOs which kicked off on November 6, 2018 in Kigali.
The four day training will focus on motivating and inspiring women entrepreneurs to become role models for other Rwandan women in business.
It will be followed by mentorship in business training from between nine months and one year for the select women to graduate and earn a certificate as mentors.
“This will be done through monitoring and evaluation of their progress. The selected female CEOs will act as models for others as trainers of trainees and inspire more 50 women the next year,” said lead trainer, Professor Murray Low, Director of Entrepreneurship Education at Columbia Business School.
From the Rwandan experience, Prof. Low said that draft programme will be developed on a way forward on how to implement this in other 10 African countries – which are also yet to be listed.
The whole project is expected to spur a growth in figures of women in business and more numbers of women owned businesses in Rwanda.
Nigerian-Ghanaian Professor Austin Okere, Founder of CWG PLC-a successful Nigeria listed ICT based business worth N14 billion Naira (est $38.5m), says that Rwanda needs this necessary shift of focus on women in business now.
Rwanda’s statistics show that women hold at least 60% leadership in parliament, contribute 30% of the GDP and female entrepreneurship accounts for 42% of enterprises countrywide, and 58% of informal businesses according to International Finance Corporation
However government reports show large gaps in gender and business distribution- a total of 142,029 businesses, of which 101,665 are male owned (71.58%), 38,017 female (26, 77%), and 2,347 with no apparent sex identity (NS) (1.65%).
“After the successful women leadership in parliament, Rwanda now needs to bridge the 50/50 gap in business and my biggest desire is to see a knowledge transfer back home from African diaspora,” Okere said.
Professor Okere, who is recognized with a Lifetime Entrepreneurship Achievement Award by the American University of Nigeria in 2017, will also be using his experience of starting a successful and how he has moved on to creating a leaders mentorship programme (Ausso Leadership Academy) after resigning from his tech business in 2015.
Among Rwandan women CEO and business managers on the hand have expressed a key need for more skills training in financial management, mentorship and access to finance as an additional aspect to enable women in business.
“The first thing that women need is to have the big idea, and start a business which is part of their hobbies or something that motivates them and learning how to slowly grow that idea into a profitable business,” said Janet Gasaatura, CEO of Slice and Cakes- who started four years ago with ten cakes and now sells over 2000 cakes annually.
Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General of Sustainable Development Goals, who opened and announced the training programme said that focusing on women in business will be one of the key means of attaining SDGs for Rwanda and Africa.