The Role of Women Entrepreneurs in Regional Stability in the Sahel

04.30.2021 | Case Studies | CIPE

CIPE is dedicated to supporting innovative solutions that support women business leaders and entrepreneurs across the Sahel. As an example of our approach, on March 16, CIPE hosted a virtual event titled, Contribution de l’Entrepreneuriat Féminin à la Stabilité au Sahel in collaboration with the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform and UN Women.

At the webinar, participants discussed policy recommendations and effective women’s economic inclusion programs that could support women-owned businesses amidst growing regional insecurity and impending COVID-19 economic recovery. To share lessons learned, CIPE is publishing this post-event report, Contribution de l’Entrepreneuriat Féminin à la Stabilité au Sahel. While this resource is in French, please see below for resulting recommendations and next steps in English.

Recommendations:

At the event, panelists and experts emphasized that national governments and partners have, for several years, undertaken important initiatives to support women’s economic inclusion. They invited stakeholders to continue these efforts to accelerate this strategic transformation towards resilience and stability in the Sahel.

Specific recommendations include:

1) Alignment of Policies and Regional Gender Vision: Panelists wish to mobilize the States of the G5 Sahel to adopt a common policy on gender promotion with a focus on economic inclusion. This policy would include an action plan allowing the establishment of:

  • A funding mechanism for women’s projects.
  • A support framework, such as a network of Centers for Women’s Entrepreneurship.
  • A mechanism for promoting women’s initiatives through procurement, taxation, or increased access to technical services of the State.

It is strongly recommended that particular attention be given to the promotion of partnerships and synergies between the various existing initiatives in order to optimize their impact and enhance the constructive participation of local institutions.

2) Public-Private Dialogue Framework for Women Entrepreneurs: This is a call to establish a formalized and inclusive space around the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform to make the voices of women entrepreneurs in the Sahel heard; women want to have access to high-level public decision-makers with a commitment to a revised reform plan annually.

3) Increased Knowledge Sharing at the Regional Level: This webinar was an opportunity for participants to see the value in the exchange of experiences and networking between women entrepreneurs from the five countries, women’s associations, Sahelian research structures, and development partners. They want to find the means to establish partnerships to access research and information as well as to bring universities and think tanks together with relevant programs and donors.

4) Network of Centers for Women’s Entrepreneurship: To promote access to specialized services and manage women’s access to information, it is valuable to think about the establishment of a Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship in each of the G5 Sahel countries that can operate as a joint network between countries to promote collaboration and exchange of experiences and knowledge.

The women at this event ask partners to support these recommendations and the G5 Sahel’s establishment of programs aimed at the economic inclusion of women in the Sahel.

Next Steps:

In collaboration with CIPE and the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform, event participants have proposed the below plan of action to identify and analyze key priorities to build actionable proposals and promote change within the areas highlighted under the “Recommendations” section:

  1. Issue identification
  2. Analysis and advanced study of priority areas supported by research
  3. Women’s validation of refined reform priorities for women’s business agenda
  4. Regional advocacy forum to present proposals for the women’s business agenda in the Sahel

This webinar allowed for the issue identification step to be carried out in a broad and participatory way. The next step will combine locally driven scientific research to deepen the support for the recommendations and design credible reform approaches to be validated by women’s representatives at a future regional workshop. Finally, advocacy will be undertaken through national and regional public private dialogue events to initiate the reform processes and mobilize resources to best structure projects that maximize impact.