It’s official - women entrepreneurs get their own global day of recognition this month – Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, 19th November 2014. Let's join to celebrate, support and empower women entrepreneurs worldwide and especially women on our own continent, Africa!
For years, entrepreneurs around the globe have been able to come together in the spirit of mutual recognition and celebration during Global Entrepreneurs Week in the month of November. But, this year is different – for the first time, women entrepreneurs are being acknowledged with their own day of celebration on 19th November. It is a time for the world to sit up and take notice of the millions of women entrepreneurs who are building successful businesses, empowering and uplifting communities, and inspiring others through their efforts.
The first ever Women’s Entrepreneurship Day will be officially launched on 19th November 2014 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The aim of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is to celebrate and raise awareness of the extraordinary women entrepreneurs who are changing the face of business in cities and communities around the world. It also hopes to encourage and empower more women to take the initiative and realise their own entrepreneurial dreams.
In developing nations, empowering women to be more entrepreneurial can lead to greater economic opportunities emerging for women, giving them the direct means with which to reduce poverty in their families, communities and countries. According to the International Labor Organisation, there is a direct correlation between having government policies in place to actively support women, and the ability for women to create and grow successful business ventures that can positively contribute to the economy. Yet ironically, the recently published 2014 GEDI (Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index) found that in almost three quarters of the 30 countries surveyed, there was a real lack of tangible support for women’s entrepreneurship and the growth of their businesses. This rather sobering situation has not, however, managed to deter the millions of enterprising women who have created thriving and innovative businesses in spite of the apparent lack of support in their countries.
Africa, on the other hand, has the potential to be a real inspiration to the rest of the world, and with a great story to tell, when it comes to successful women entrepreneurs on the continent. They are fast becoming global game changers with their business enterprises. Take for example Ethiopian entrepreneur, Bethlehem Tilamun Alemu, the founder and inspiration behind the rapidly rising global shoe brand, Sole Rebels, currently taking the world and its feet by storm. Or Tabitha Karanja, founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries, who took on the might of an entrenched, male-dominated beer brewing monopoly in Kenya, and created one of the most successful woman-owned brewing concerns. Or perhaps Julian Omalla, otherwise known as “Mama Cheers”, who started out in business in Uganda with just a red dress and a wheelbarrow, selling fruit at the local market, but who went on to become one of the biggest and most successful entrepreneurs in Africa’s thriving food and drink processing sector. There are thousands of success stories just like these where women entrepreneurs in Africa are showing the rest of the world how to beat the odds and build a business, no matter what the hurdles or challenges in life.
South Africa is one of 153 countries globally supporting Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, and one of the real success stories in terms of the large numbers of truly inspirational women entrepreneurs and global brands that are emerging from the country onto the world stage. One only has to look at how Sibongile Rejoice Sambo is positively shaking up the private aviation sector with her company, SRS Aviation; or how successful brand builder Carrol Boyes is creating luxury homeware with a distinctly African style and a global appeal; or world renowned jewellery designer, Jenna Clifford, who is an inspirational example of hard work, perseverance and a entrepreneurial vision in action. All these women entrepreneurs, together with the thousands of others across the country who are working tirelessly to build successful businesses, often against the odds, are a shining example of women’s entrepreneurship in action in Africa.
As Africa unites with the rest of the world in commemorating the first ever Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, it is a time to celebrate all those women who are building proudly African brands and businesses. They are a true inspiration to the many young aspirant women entrepreneurs of the future who are looking to change the face of African business and make their own mark in the world. It is also a time to support and nurture women’s entrepreneurship in every country across the African continent, at both a government and private sector level. Such support makes good economic sense, as women entrepreneurs and their business ventures have the potential to generate much-needed jobs and revenues, whilst at the same time uplifting families and communities, and contributing exponentially to economic growth and development.
So, this month, let’s all join together in celebration of the first Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, and use it as a source of inspiration for the creation of many more successful women-owned businesses in Africa.