Africa 2018 Forum to Showcase 250 Startups as Event Moves to Empower Women and Youth-Owned Enterprises

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The Africa 2018 Forum, the premier business event that serves to nurture new partnerships, meet investors and fast track business objectives in Africa, will be putting an emphasis on youth and women this year.

The affair will feature over 250 startups that will be participating in an event known as the Young Entrepreneurs Day, which will include pre-event practical workshops.

Heads of State from across Africa expected to attend the Forum, as Egypt takes over the chairmanship of the African Union in 2019.

This year’s Africa 2018 Forum will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and will take place this week on December 8th and December 9th.

The first day’s events will feature a Young Entrepreneurs’ Day and a discussion on Women Empowering Africa.

It has emerged that the heads of six multilateral development banks will be participating.

Some of Africa’s most promising companies as well as emerging business leaders will take part in the Young Entrepreneurs Day. Start-ups will be represented with the objective of connecting them with investors and also equipping them with the skills to grow their businesses. All of them have strong operational track record and prospects for growth and scaling up of their businesses.

This initiative follows on from an event dubbed the World Youth Forum held in Egypt last month. A number of measures were announced by Egypt’s President Abdelfattah Al Sisi to support youth and entrepreneurs so that they become important economic actors.

“Egypt has a thriving start-up sector, and we are working full force to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation.

The Ministry has launched number of start-up initiatives, such as Egypt Ventures, Falak Startups, and Fekretak Sherketak, which provide a comprehensive package of support encompassing funding, mentoring, business development services, and accelerator programs. The country has adopted an open-door policy whereby entrepreneurs engage in dialogue with policy makers to overcome regulatory constraints and enable them to unlock their potential for innovation and growth.

It is also positioning itself not only as an enabler in Egypt, but as a regional entrepreneurship hub for Africa.

“We are globally competitive on all fronts: regulations, access to finance and, of course, a large talent pool of dynamic and vibrant youth,” Dr. Nasr added.

Women’s empowerment is also at the heart of this year’s programme. Several studies have shown how gender parity improves the quality of governance and accelerates development. A number of sessions will be devoted to devising ways and means of bringing about greater participation of women in setting policy and strategy both in government and in business boardrooms.

“We should not forget that we in Africa are taking a lead in many respects, with a higher representation of women in cabinets and parliaments than in most countries around the world – including our own Director General at COMESA,” explained Heba Salama, CEO of COMESA’s Regional Investment Agency, co-organisers of the Forum.

COMESA is Africa’s largest trading block and has played an instrumental role in driving the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that was signed earlier this year.

The Forum is one of Africa biggest gatherings of business and government leaders. Captains of industry, including Abdulsamad Rabiu, Chairman of BUA group in Nigeria, Issad Rebrab, Algeria’s biggest industrialist and Ylias Akbaraly, Francophone Africa’s most successful businessman, will share a roundtable with the Heads of State attending the Forum. Their focus will be on driving greater intra-African investment.

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