The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has honored the achievements of women entrepreneurs and innovators across Africa.
The annual award ceremony, which was held recently at the Westin Hotel, in South Africa, had 40 women founders and entrepreneurs selected as finalists from 12 African countries across eight categories. The theme of this year’s edition is, “Unleashing Ideas: Innovation, Sustainability and Enterprise Growth”.
The 2018 AWIEF Awards showcased a diverse representation of finalist entrepreneurs from across the continent, including Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The awards have grown exponentially from entries of just under 300, last year, when they were launched, to 1,200 this year. Judges are drawn from thought leaders, decision-makers and specialists in various sectors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Founder and CEO of AWIEF, Irene Ochem, said the award ceremony continues to grow, with the aim of ensuring that entrepreneurial Africans are encouraged.
“AWIEF remains Africa’s number one voice in driving the agenda for women’s leadership in business. The AWIEF brand has grown tremendously over these few years through the sustained support of our trusted partners, local and international, underscoring the great values of AWIEF programmes and projects in accelerating women entrepreneurship as a catalyst of inclusive economic growth,” she said.
“Our finalists were rigorously assessed in terms of the sustainability of their businesses as well as the documented or prospective impact on community development and the economy. Thereafter, our judges decided on five finalists in each category and one winner.
“It is with great pleasure, immense honor and a deep admiration, that we salute our 2018 AWIEF Awards finalists and winners who have sailed through AWIEF rigorous scrutiny to meet the prescribed criteria and, most importantly, for being a beacon of hope and inspiration in their communities and organizations,” Ochem added.
Winner of the AWIEF Awards for Young Entrepreneur, Nomso Faith Kana, said Africa was enabling the fourth industrial revolution and with its very young population, this is how the continent would thrive. Her startup, Sun n Shield 84 Technologies is a fibre optic cable manufacturing company.
The MD of Exotic EPZ Ltd in Kenya, and the winner of the Agri Entrepreneur Award, Jane Maigua, said her AWIEF Award was a symbol of “bravery and unity of purpose”, in working in a challenging field. Her agri-processing business is one-year-old and has already created 152 jobs, 90% of whom are young women. It is also a sustainable social enterprise, buying from smallholder farmers.