ECOWAS moves to empower women from rural communities in the region through business incubator centres26 Feb, 2018
Tenkodogo, 26th February 2018. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken further steps to empower women and promote gender equality in the region, especially in its rural areas through the Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE), by opening a business incubator centre in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso.
The initiative which is supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Spanish Fund will enable 300 women from rural communities in Burkina Faso develop small and medium scaled enterprises. The pilot phase will last for 15 months and is expected to cost 245,000 euros.
The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, at the opening of the centre on 22nd February 2018 in Tenkodogo, stated that the program would build the capacity of female entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector by professionalizing and modernizing their skills in processing cereals, cassava and fish.
The Commissioner disclosed that Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone had be singled out for the pilot phase of this program which is expected to be replicated in other West African Countries. She said this was because of the particularly difficult conditions women in those countries face in terms of gender equality and economic empowerment.
‘Many constraints prevent these women from undertaking viable long-term economic projects. In addition to the socio-cultural constraints that hinder the initiatives of these rural women, access to local and regional markets and finance have been a great challenge to them’, she added.
The Burkina Faso Minister of Women Affairs, National Solidarity and the Family, Hélène Marie Laurence Ilboudo Marchal in her remarks during the opening ceremony, reiterated the commitment of her government to ensure that the program receives every support it needs to be successful.
The Minister commended ECOWAS’ efforts in empowering women and promoting gender equality in the region as she declared the centre officially open.
A second business incubator Centre which will be opened in Sierra Leone, is expected to train 200 women in the areas of palm processing, rice processing, poultry production, animal husbandry and vegetable production.
The BIAWE project is executed by the ECOWAS Commission in partnership with the NEPAD and Spanish Funds. Its aim is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger while promoting gender equality and women empowerment.