ECOWAS, NEPAD SIGN AGREEMENT TO EMPOWER AFRICA’S RURAL WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 16, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ECOWAS and NEPAD have signed an agreement worth one million Euro for the empowerment of Africa’s rural women entrepreneurs.
The accord for the grant provided by the Kingdom of Spain through the NEPAD-Spain Fund was initialled on Thursday, 12th July 2012 at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, and the Executive Secretary of the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, Dr.Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.
The grant will provide funds for the Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE) project, which nurtures the business ventures of rural African women operating primarily in the area of agriculture.
The project seeks to support initiatives in economic capacity building for women, promote rural entrepreneurship and develop agricultural resources.
It will also provide a guarantee fund for rural women entrepreneurs in Africa to receive support from banks and financial institutions in the form of loans, processing of agricultural produce and market access for the sale of the produce.
ECOWAS and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are the two regional economic communities leading the implementation of this project.
At the ECOWAS level, the project will be piloted in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, with the hope of extension to other Member States of the Community.
The aim of the two-year project is to increase the economic options and promote the economic leadership of African rural women, as well as eradicate poverty within the ECOWAS region.
In 2009, West Africa and the Kingdom of Spain leaders signed a joint declaration under which the ECOWAS Commission and the Spanish Government undertook to provide support for the economic capacity building of West African women through the BIAWE project.
The Spanish Government designated the ECOWAS Commission to steer the project through the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency.
Technical meetings in 2011 by the ECOWAS Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, and the meeting of the NEPAD Fund-Spain Committee resulted in the finalization of the project documents.
The signing of the agreement represents the final stage preceding the project implementation.
The Kingdom of Spain is one of ECOWAS’ key partners. In addition to this project the Kingdom is also providing ECOWAS with financial support in many areas, including migration, renewable energy, infrastructure, agriculture and small arms and light weapons proliferation control.
Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)