Entrepreneurship is a key to the economic empowerment of women. AWIEF is building a movement of women-led change in Africa.

AWIEF is led by founder and chief executive officer, Irene Ochem, and AWIEF’s activities are managed by its executive leadership and guided by a Board of Trustees to oversee the forum’s work in advocating gender equality across the continent by promoting and supporting women’s economic empowerment through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Headquartered both in Lagos, Nigeria and Cape Town, South Africa, AWIEF is a Pan-African non-profit organisation, born out of an event conceptualised by Ochem in 2015, to bring leading women entrepreneurs together to inspire and mentor the next generation of women entrepreneurs in Africa. The need for an organisation emerged from that event. AWIEF now includes an annual conference and expo and awards; as well as events throughout the year; and programmes to mentor, fund and grow women entrepreneurs on the continent.

AWIEF’s goals and vision is to:

  • Promote and support women’s economic empowerment across Africa, through innovation and entrepreneurship, for job creation, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development.
  • Develop and implement programmes that foster the advancement of African women and girls in the areas of education, technology, and entrepreneurship.
  • Provide capacity-building, training and business skills development for women-owned businesses to scale, move up the value chain and be more competitive.
  • Facilitate access to finance and global market opportunities for African women entrepreneurs.
  • Promote sustainable practices in women-owned and women-led businesses.
  • Facilitate intra-Africa trade, collaborations and business partnerships.
  • Advocate for gender-sensitive government mainstreaming and implementation of policies and legal frameworks to empower women and girls in Africa.
  • Promote learning, networking, knowledge-sharing, and exchange of best practices.
  • Establish an extensive network of African women entrepreneurs, business women, innovators and social entrepreneurs.
  • Organise and host the annual Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum conference and exhibition.

AWIEF runs several programmes for women across the continent, such as the flagship AWIEF Growth Accelerator Programme for getting businesses “investment ready”; the FemBioBiz II Accelerator Programme in partnership with NEPAD/SANBio and funded by the BioFISA II Programme, which builds and supports the growth of women-owned and led businesses in the health and agricultural biotech and other technologies with impact on health, nutrition and food security.

The #VALUE4HER programme in partnership with the Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural cooperation (CTA), a European Union funded institution headquartered in The Netherlands, which strengthens women’s agribusiness enterprises in Africa.

AWIEF, with sponsorship from Nedbank, has also hosted #AWIEFBusinessNetworking dialogues to share insight on the role women play in innovation and transformation.

AWIEF is endorsed by the United Nations Women; African Development Bank (AfDB); NEPAD; and the European Union-funded Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Clooperation (CTA).

For more about AWIEF and to become a member, go to: