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Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has launched a Women and Girls Startup Challenge in Cote d’Ivoire’s capital, Abidjan. The initiative is geared towards getting more women and girls into digital entrepreneurship, businesses, and empower them economically.

Participants of the Women and Girls Startup Challenge are required to present a ten-minute pitch to a panel of judges. The application will be made online, and the seasoned panelists who are also professionals from various fields will make a follow-up on the most promising pitches. Successful applicants will get mentorship opportunities as well as access to funding.

During the launch of the Challenge, Songwe, made a remark on the sub-theme of the event, ‘Contributing more efficiently to the sustainable development Agenda for girls and women through digitalization.’

She noted, “while digital evolution is not a panacea, it provides opportunities for an effective participation of women in sustainable development and the benefit that they can derive from this process are immeasurable.”

Songwe further notes that access and control to information about products, together with the composition and among other variables is critical in the processing of these products. They could play a bigger role in women’s activities within the supply chains; from the production to the sale in the markets.

It might be important to point out that the launch of the Women and Girls Startup Challenge is in line with the First Edition of the “Femme, Numérique et Développement (FENUD)” (Woman, Digitization and Development). It is the biggest girls and women in ICT event within the Francophone Africa regions. This event happened this year in Abidjan on Nov. 16-17.

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