BRITAIN is to make £10m available to a new generation of African women entrepreneurs under a new ambitious scheme to be launched next week at the first ever UK-Africa Summit that will take place in London at which President Muhammadu Buhari will be in attendance.
In what will be the first major international summit hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK will play host to about 10 African leaders. President Buhari is leaving Nigeria today to attend the event that will bring together African governments, business leaders and dozens of international organisations to generate new opportunities for investments and trade.
Helping African women become independent and launch their own businesses will be a key focus at Monday’s summit taking place in London, with the aim of boosting prosperity and women’s empowerment. In addition, the UK will also throw open the City of London to African firms seeking to secure resources.
Alok Sharma, the UK’s international development secretary has announced an increase in UK policies to boost women in business with mentoring and training. He added that some 3,000 women will get coaching to become self-employed entrepreneurs, with a 50% increase in funding to £10m from £6.8m.
Mr Sharma said: “When women are economically empowered, their whole community benefits. Experts estimate achieving this will add trillions to the global economy but we also know it cuts rates of violence and abuse such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, abhorrent practices which we must end.”
According to Mr Sharma, the funding will also increase women’s access to healthcare, education and family planning, freeing women to enter the workforce. Women already run a third of Africa’s small firms but their economic value is modest and many are held back by barriers such as difficulty persuading banks to lend funds.
It is estimated by the UK Department for International Development that increasing women’s income and opportunities could add $12trn (£9.2trn) to the global economy by 2025. When he was foreign secretary, Prime Minister Johnson led a drive to increase the education of girls in developing countries and this summit will seek to build on that.