Many inspirational and outstanding African women entrepreneurs excelled this year in creating opportunities and positively impacting lives and communities, driving growth for Africa. Out of the 24 powerful women founders and entrepreneurs selected in September as top finalists by an international and independent panel of judges, eight winners were announced at the awards ceremony that took place at Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali. The 24 top finalists represented women founders operating in a diverse range of sectors from 14 African countries: Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The AWIEF Awards ceremony and gala dinner was a culmination of a highly successful two-day AWIEF2023 Conference that attracted more than 500 delegates from over 50 countries, 41 of them African countries.
Each year the AWIEF Awards recognise, honour, and celebrate outstanding women entrepreneurs and business owners in Africa and across industry sectors, for their economic performance and contribution to Africa’s growth and social development.
This year’s event unveiled the inaugural AWIEF Lifetime Leadership Award. This award was bestowed on Fatma Samoura, Fifa secretary general, in recognition of her outstanding leadership and contributions to the world of sports. It was also a tribute to her inspiring impact and accomplishments on a global scale, as the first non-European, the first African and first-ever female to lead Fifa as secretary general in its 116-year history.
“What an honour to receive the inaugural AWIEF Lifetime Leadership Award. This award is not just for me, but all the people who have dedicated their lives to our game and helped us transform women’s football over the last few years. They have created a beautiful legacy – a Fifa that is focused on football and is respected by international organisations, and a sport that captures the hearts and minds of boys and girls around the world and brings them joy and happiness," said Samoura.
"We have given more girls and women the chance to play football, even in countries where it would have been considered almost impossible only a few years ago."
Going further in her acceptance speech, Samoura urged women to “invest in African football” as it offers a huge untapped potential.
She said: “Then of course, you women need to invest in football. I will be retiring peacefully in my beautiful country Senegal if at least I got a phone call, by the next Women’s World Cup from many of you saying: ‘Madam, because we saw you in Rwanda and decided to invest in football, today we are club owners.’ So, the ball is in your court, make it happen because you have many talents.”
“Remember one thing: football is the future for Africa, football is the future for building peace across the world. Football is a universal message, football is something that transmits love, that gives mind, that also transcends borders and brings people together.”
Irene Ochem, AWIEF founder and CEO, in her AWIEF Awards 2023 ceremony and gala dinner opening remarks said: “Fatma Samoura has shown exceptional leadership in such a male-dominated sector as sports, and in particular, football. She is an inspirational role model for us other women, and we are truly excited about honouring and celebrating her tonight.”
The winners of AWIEF Awards 2023 are:
Salamba Diene, CEO, Biosene Sarl, Senegal
Kidist Tesfaye, founder and CEO, YeneHealth, Ethiopia
Nonopa Tenza, founder and MD, Kevinot Farming, South Africa
Ifeoma Malo, co-founder and CEO, Clean Technology Hub, Nigeria
Yasmina Belahsen, founder, MayaDigital, Morocco
Mundih Noelar Njohjam, medical doctor, Epilepsy Awareness, Aid & Research Association, Cameroon
Zulfat Makarubega, founder, University of Tourism, Technology & Business Studies, Rwanda
Dalia Ibrahim, CEO, Nahdet Misr Publishing House, Egypt
Ecobank was AWIEF Awards 2023 sponsor for the Empowerment Award category.