African Union Forum Honours ImpactHER With Best Women SME Support Organisation Award
Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
An impact-driven non-governmental organization which has impacted over 45,000 female SMEs across 53 countries in the African continent, ImpactHER, has been honoured as the “Best Women SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) Support Organization in Africa”.
The organisation was honoured at the African Union Forum, with the theme, “Economic Empowerment of SMEs, Women and Youth Entrepreneurs to Realize Africa’s Industrialization in the Context of the Integrated Market”, held at the Grand Nile Hotel, Cairo.
The Forum was organized with the objective of promoting, up-skilling and strategizing for a better, more inclusive African SME sector to realize Africa’s Industrialization in the context of the integrated market.
Dignitaries present at the event include African Union Commissioner, Ambassador Albert Muchanga; President, Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah; President, All Africa Associations for SMEs, Prof. Chandan Kheswar Jankee; President, Egyptian Business Women Association (EBWA), Dr. Amany Asfour; CEO, AUDA-NEPAD, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas; Executive Director, ITC, Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton; Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Nevine Gamea, and many other distinguished guests.
The ceremony recognized individuals, institutions, organizations, government agencies and SMEs that have distinguished themselves by the quality and usefulness of their operational models, design, implementation and overall impact of their policies on the development of SMEs in Africa.
Known for creating interventions focused on increasing financial inclusion of female entrepreneurs in Africa, ImpactHER was given the award of the Best Women SME Support Organization in Africa, in recognition of its impact-driven initiatives that have helped women business owners achieve their economic potential across Africa.
The founder of ImpactHER, Efe Ukala, while speaking on the award, said “it has been a privilege to serve African women and be challenged to design innovative solutions. It’s been an exciting journey so far and I look forward to being of continuous service to our beloved continent, Africa. It’s also been an incredible opportunity to work with a dynamic and talented team, from ImpactHER’s Director, Kenechi Ezekika; country representatives, Onie Bayode and Maame Mintah; and members of our Wise Council – H.E, Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, and Patricia Obozuwa, to improve the economic narrative of women business owners in Africa.
“We thank the African Union and All African Association for Small and Medium Enterprises for this recognition. We pledge to continuously serve as a pillar of support to women-led small and medium sized businesses in Africa and that no woman that reaches out to us shall ever walk alone.”
Other dignitaries honoured at the ceremony include Dr. Oramah; Dr. Asfour who was inducted into the Africa SME Hall of Fame while Dr. Tapiwa Uchizi Nyasulu Prof. Jankee were also given Appreciation Awards for their individual roles in supporting Women SMEs.
ImpactHER which prides itself on the maintenance of global best practices and the championing of a cause that costs Africa $95bn dollars every year, was founded as a result of the wide financing gender gap in Africa and has continued to provide women-led SMEs in Africa with the skills and support they need to grow their businesses.
The supports from ImpactHER include access to financial opportunities, investor-readiness training, mentorship, market access and other services such as business registration, branding, and website development.
Since its inception in 2017, it has provided free business skills training and support to 46,337 middle to low-income women in 53 African countries, impacted 17,000 African girls through its digital transformation program, awarded grants to African female entrepreneurs, and built over 600 websites for women-led SMEs.
In 2020, as a response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ImpactHER team provided pro bono business support to African women that helped them navigate unexpected challenges like loss of revenue. As a result of this intervention, 12,356 women-led businesses across Africa were prevented from being permanently shutdown.