The Vice-President of ECOWAS, H.E. Mrs. Finda Koroma visits Sierra Leone for the Official Opening ceremony and Launch of the 50 Million Women’s Speak Platform Project (50 MAWS).
The project was launched by the First Lady of Sierra Leone, H. E. Fatima Maada Bio. The project’s concept was taken from a pilot study conducted by the African Development Bank which identified challenges impeding women from growing their business.
The two-day stakeholders engagement meeting was held at the Bintumani conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th January. The project is to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial and non-financial information necessary to growing businesses.
Currently, COMESA is engaging Member States to introduce the project, outlining the benefits as well as facilitating the establishment of Project Country Teams at national level. COMESA intends to do the continental launch in Sierra Leone.
In her speech Madam Fatima Bio explained that the project will facilitate the empowerment of women and girls through the creation of a Virtual platform for networking and information sharing, accessing financial and non-financial information. She maintained that this initiative is in line with other projects of the government that places women as significant actors of development in the country. The initiative, she stressed, offers a networking opportunity for women to be seen as viable actors of development, further encouraging all women to come together to make the project a success.
She called on women across the country to come together and embrace the project, adding that if the initiative has taken firm root in the country, no Government will overturn their strides and send them to the gutters, but will recognize that they are partners in development. She stressed that together they can achieve their development dreams, adding that women should be given opportunity to grow up.
She then encouraged all women to make use of this golden opportunity and improve their lot and that of all women in the country. “When we talk about entrepreneurship, many believe it is about shop and other things, but it is not just about owning a shop, it is a project that gives women a platform they could use and be part of the network, marketing their products beyond Sierra Leone,” she underscored adding that ECOWAS has come to put smiles on the faces of women. “Some women do not have a shop but have the ability to grow in business, these should come on board”, she maintained.
“We are going to prepare our future by pricing our own product so as to discourage others from doing so. If we kick this project off and become successful we are going to take many women out of poverty…” with these words, Madam Fatima Bio officially launched the initiative.
On her part the ECOWAS Vice President, Madam Finda Koroma, said the initiative is in line with ECOWAS’ vision for development for 2063. She maintained that the project is geared towards improving the capability of women in entrepreneurship, which will enable them to become self-reliant. Adding that the project will also help women with the ability to know how to do business through information got during networking with other women groups across the continent. She also spoke on how the project is here to stay and improve the capability of women in business.
The Minister of Economic Development & Country Planning also threw light on the significance of the project, which she said will help to transform women so that they can be seen as important actors of development
Senior government officials including the Minister of Social Welfare, Hon Ms. Baindu Dassama, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Nabeela F. Tunis, Deputy Minister of Information were in attendance.
They expressed the government’s commitment to ensure the successful implementation of this women empowerment project.
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