Press Releases

Pan – African Women Invent and Innovate 2005

Unathi Mgobozi
Phone:        +(27) 11 731 3149


Accra - September 9, 2005 —The first Pan-African Women Invent & Innovate Awards Ceremony, Exhibition and Conference (PAWII) sponsored by the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM), the Ministry of Women & Children Affairs, Ghana and other partners, will be held in Accra, Ghana, from September 7 to 9, 2005.  The event is being organized by the Global Women Innovators & Inventors Network (GWIIN).

As part of this event, fifteen women across the continent will be recipients of the prestigious PAWII awards.  These awards will be presented to the most innovative and inventive African women in recognition of their contributions to industry.  The aim of these awards is to raise the profile of women entrepreneurs, broaden their horizons and encourage other women across the continent and beyond in their pursuit for excellence.  

Over 200 nominations were received from across Africa including the West African - Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Cameroon, and East African - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.  Through their creativity, these businesswomen have played a role in the uplifting of their communities and have contributed to the economic development of their countries.  As women entrepreneurs, they have been running their own businesses and have formed business partnerships that have created jobs, provided training and secured funding and grants to women organizations.

This Pan- African event will provide a unique opportunity for delegates to interact with distinguished speakers from government and industry through keynote addresses, panel and round table discussions.  The Honourable Mr. Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade & Industry, Ghana, will deliver the opening address on Thursday September 8, 2005, at the Accra International Conference Centre.  In attendance as his guests of honour will be the Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister for Women & Children’s Affairs, Ghana, and Hon. Ms Maļmouna Sourang Ndir, Minister of Small and Medium Sized Business, Female Entrepreneurship and Microfinance, Senegal.  Former South African Deputy Minister of Trade & Industry and current Minister of Minerals and Energy will also be present as Guests of honour.

The plenary sessions will be chaired by various panelists with knowledge on innovative markets in Africa, finance and investment and access to global markets.   Delegates from the rest of the continent will share their expertise on topics such as intellectual property rights, product development and manufacturing.

Gender is a strategic priority for IFC, particularly in Africa, where women are a potential powerhouse for the continent’s private sector development.  Recognising that aspiring businesswomen are often prevented from reaching their economic potential because of gender inequality,
the GEM program was launched in December 2004.  This crosscutting initiative aims to mainstream gender issues throughout IFC operations, while leveraging the untapped potential of women in emerging markets.

IFC’s gender initiative is focusing primarily on Africa, aiming to help raise the profile of women entrepreneurs and develop new business opportunities by working closely with local women’s business associations, entrepreneurs, financial institutions, and policymakers to confront the barriers to equal participation.

The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through 2004, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of 2004 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.  The Private Enterprise Partnership for Africa was established in 2005 to expand IFC’s technical assistance activities in the region.