West Africa - Growth Through Engendering Enterprise in ECOWAS Countries
Year Completed: 2003
IBI facilitated a region-wide West African Businesswomen’s Network (WABNET). Events rotated among national capitals. For example, in Ouagadougou eighteen members participated in a strategic planning training in May 2003. The workshop trained leaders in effective strategic planning skills to apply to the regional network as well as their personal businesses. Participants focused on developing and carrying-out effective action plans for business and organizational growth. Together, the members identified the three priority areas for their WABNET chapter (structure and management, communication, and well-defined published procedures), analyzed their causes and effects, and suggested viable solutions. Participants developed action plans complete with timelines and budgets to address the three priority areas.
USAID engaged IBI to develop effective networks among West African businesswomen to overcome trade and investment barriers faced by women in the region. IBI used this regional program to help entrepreneurs see that value chains can extend far beyond one’s own community and country. IBI-provided technical assistance enabled 195 women to utilize the internet for the first time to communicate among themselves and to identify clients around the world. Training programs also taught participants leadership skills to increase their personal effectiveness and that of their business.
IBI assistance achieved the following illustrative results:
- Business models changed from oral to electronic and from local to regional and global.
- 195 businesswomen, mostly unfamiliar with a keyboard, were trained to use email and to search for suppliers, comparative pricing, research the competition, and use teleconferencing.
- Learned the implications of local business law on their businesses, how to register businesses, open bank accounts, transfer money across borders, and render auditable accounts.
- Run My Own Business? Yes, I can! Manuals provide detailed guidance for women to register and operate businesses in six countries.
- Business linkage events co-sponsored with the Corporate Council on Africa brought 150 women in touch with customers and suppliers and taught them how to study distant markets preferences, packaging and labeling, and export/import requirements.