1st We-Fi regional summit in West Africa

Côte d’Ivoire hosted Wednesday, April 17, 2019, the first regional summit of the women entrepreneurs finance initiative (We-Fi) in West Africa. This subregional meeting to encourage initiatives to finance women’s entrepreneurship recorded the participation of officials such as Mr. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice president of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; Mrs. Dominique Ouattara, First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire; Mrs. Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to US President Donald Trump; several senators and members of the American administration; Mr. Briji Rafini, Prime Minister of Niger; Mr. Jean Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission; Presidents of the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank. After the working sessions and the panels to share  experiences that took place during the day, the closing ceremony was presided over by the First Lady, Mrs. Dominique Ouattara.

The discussions conducted during this regional summit for West Africa focused on women’s role  in the economic development, and on the women difficulties in accessing finance.

As an advocate for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, the wife of the Ivorian head of state called on African countries and financial institutions to speed up reforms to remove barriers and facilitate women’s access to financing. For her, it is the only way we can  combat poverty and food insecurity in Africa. “According to the most recent statistics, very few women have access to finance, markets and technology in sub-Saharan Africa. Women’s entrepreneurship faces many challenges, to which we need to find lasting solutions. In this context, it is necessary for countries to  accelerate reforms for the growth of private sector activity and the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship, if we are to succeed in reducing poverty and insecurity. ” pleaded Dominique Ouattara. Taking advantage of this platform, Mrs. Dominique Ouattara shared her country’s experience on the matter through the Fund for Women of Côte d’Ivoire (FAFCI).

“In my country, we have decided to promote and support women’s entrepreneurship, (…) For my part, issues related to women’s empowerment and women’s entrepreneurship have always been issues of a great importance to me. Indeed, I strongly believe that if women’s businesses are financed it will promote their autonomy and improve the living conditions of their families, “she said. Talking about FAFCI, she argued that according to many feedback, this funding program is a reliable response to the precariousness of thousand households. According to Dominique Ouattara, FAFCI with a capital of 21 billion CFA has helped finance the businesses of about 200,000 women. “By providing assistance to 200,000 families, it’s about one and a half million people that have been removed from poverty thanks to the funding” she said.

Mr. Jean Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission launched the call for action in order to open the subregion’s market to women.

Participating in a panel dedicated to women entrepreneurs, Mrs. Ivanka Trump, Advisor to President Donald Trump congratulated Mrs. Dominique Ouattara for her commitment to promoting women’s empowerment. She also presented the US $ 1 billion women’s entrepreneurship funding program set up by the US Government. This program is not only for combatting poverty but also insecurity. Note that the First Lady offered a sumptuous dinner to her guests.