ONE thing was certain at the end of the Absa Ghana Inspire Me conference in Accra: women businesses ought to be more collaborative and bolder in pushing the frontiers of growth in Africa.
The Conference took center stage in Accra last week, bringing together prominent African women businesses and entrepreneurs to share ideas, empower each other and discuss emerging trends and skills necessary to transform their institutions and propel them to various levels of growth.
Set under the theme, “Empowering women’s economic growth together,” it was also to support women-owned businesses with value-added financial solutions to drive sustainable growth.
A diversity of speakers, from accomplished women entrepreneurs to regulators at the Central Bank, to leading legal minds on the continent, policymakers, CEOs and other governance experts, assembled to grace the two-day event.
What was striking was the collective call to the women participants to support each other, challenge the status quo, and facilitate opportunities for other women to grow. Absa Ghana’s Board Chair, Mrs. Frances Adu-Mante set the tone during her opening address when she said, “Women business owners must learn to cultivate the habit of partnerships and collaboration amongst themselves if we are to significantly contribute to Africa’s economic growth sustainably.”
Keynote speaker, the Nigerian entrepreneur, Ibukun Awosika, highlighted a fundamental point – that no one loses in any thriving economy when women are given the platform to lead and create value consistently. She urged male entrepreneurs to support the growth and sustainability of women businesses instead of approaching it with a competitive lens.
David Ofosu-Dorte, Managing Partner at AB & David Law, a continental legal firm, said changes to intra-Africa travel and policies such as AfCFTA have narrowed the challenges of distance, tariffs and language on the continent, leaving women with no excuse not to succeed.
The event also featured industry and business heavyweights during the panel discussion sessions, speaking on topics including, unlocking access to finance for women, building a sustainable business in a BANI world, Ghana’s readiness to strengthen trade, and best practise sharing by accomplished women leaders in Africa.
Abena Osei-Poku, Managing Director at Absa bank Ghana said:“ the conference was a true opportunity for us to lead from the front in how we support, inspire and empower women businesses on the continent. Women are critical to progress; their dreams, ideas and voices matter and we have a responsibility to continue creating avenues for them to succeed.”
An exhibition forum was organised, as part of the conference, for business owners from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa, to display their products and services to participants and the general public.
Commenting after day 2 of the conference, Audrey Abakah, Director of SME and Agency banking at Absa Ghana said: “We are happy with the participation and the collective willingness of women businesses to go above and beyond to create a better environment for transformation. It brings real meaning to our purpose of empowering Africa’s tomorrow, together – one story at a time.”