Unleashing Ideas: Innovation, Sustainability & Enterprise Growth

8 - 9 November 2018
Cape Town International Convention Centre
Cape Town, South Africa




Equity, Impact and Inclusive Growth towards Agenda 2030 and a Sustainable African Future



In an increasingly digital and interconnected global economy, there is growing evidence that women face more obstacles than men in starting and growing businesses, and in participating in the formal economy despite playing an important role and making significant contributions to African economies.

According to World Bank (2012) and the recently released Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2017, Africa leads the world in female entrepreneurship. However, African women are faced with a lot of challenges and constraints to their economic participation and empowerment, including:

  • gender inequalities in access to economic opportunities
  • Gender bias in education and skills development
  • Less access to capital, finance, technology, market information, business networks and other productive inputs such as land
  • Disproportional responsibilities for unpaid domestic work and care which translates to time poverty and less energy for unleashing their full potentials for economic empowerment

At Davos and similar gatherings of World Leaders over the past few years, the focus has been on how we govern, grow, develop and lead in an uncertain future. African women are uniquely positioned to lead in a world where globalisation, populism, disruptive technologies and climate change are converging to create a VUCA environment (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is Africa’s premier women’s economic empowerment platform. The annual AWIEF conference and exhibition is a unique gathering of resilient, agile and successful African women innovators and entrepreneurs from across the continent. It is an opportunity to connect, share, collaborate and make plans about how we can invest, grow and develop African women-led businesses and initiatives that are poised to shape Africa's future.

This Forum will commence what we hope will become a multi-year Report Card for DFIs, Financial Services Sector and Impact Investment Institutions on the efficacy of their investment programs and strategies for growing women entrepreneurs in the broad areas of technology, inclusive infrastructure and related sectors and sustainable food production – the Nexus Growth sectors  vital for Africa's sustainable future.

AWIEF 2017 will bring together female entrepreneurs from all levels and sectors, social entrepreneurs, innovators, SMEs, MSMEs, NGOs, international organisations, foundations, governments and the private sector to deliberate on innovative approaches and technologies to better foster the empowerment of African women and unleash their full potential for economic growth.

Building on the great successes of 2015 and 2016 events held in Lagos, Nigeria, AWIEF 2017   holding in Cape Town, South Africa, seeks to further broaden the breath and diffusion as well as enhance the impact of this unique pan-African organization and Forum. The conference will once again attract and gather women from all over Africa, its diaspora and the international community to engage in meaningful conversations regarding the issues, trends and challenges of female entrepreneurship and innovation.

AWIEF also offers an exhibition platform for companies, organizations and women-owned businesses to showcase their projects and innovations, products, roles and contributions to the African economy and society. By bringing together international representation of women in business, AWIEF promotes intra-Africa trade, reveals achievements and acts as a catalyst to network, share knowledge, dialogue and learning across the continent’s borders.


  • Keynotes
  • Panel Discussions
  • Workshops/Masterclasses
  • Breakout Sessions
  • Pitch Competitions
  • Business Matchmakings
  • Project Launches
  • Networking Cocktail Reception
  • AWIEF Awards and Gala
  • Post-Conference Tours & Site Visits



Conference session plenary presentations/panel discussion topics will be chosen across the following thematic areas:

  • Female Entrepreneurship Success Stories – Women Making it BIG in Africa

Who are the Women Entrepreneurs making it big on the continent? What are their stories? It is time to tell it as it is – the good, the bad and the ugly. AWIEF will learn practical lessons from these successful and exceptional African female business owners and innovators.


  • Education and Capacity Requirements for Inclusive Growth

Educating Africans for future success - What is working? What is not working? What is stopping us from changing what is not working? How is entrepreneurial education being taught in schools?


  • Understanding New Trends in Technology and Innovation Including Fintech and Agritech – Women and Disruptive Technology

African women are poised to positively disrupt technology trends. Who are the women who are making it in Fintech and Agritech? Who are the women innovators who have won competitions over the past few years? We will hear from them, their stories and we will have the Fintech and other funders in the space in the room for a lightening pitch session for their new ideas.


  • Access to Finance and Financial Inclusion

We will be targeting the inclusive finance funds to have them report on what they are doing. What is working and what are the challenges? How are they poised to become better partners in Africa's future growth?


  • Food Security and Engaging Young Women in Agri-Entrepreneurship and Farming Innovations

As the largest sector in developing world including Africa, Agriculture has a massive potential and scope for continent-wide job creation and Africa’s inclusive and sustainable transformation and future growth. With hundreds of millions of Africans immigrating from the rural to the urban areas, what is the future of African Agriculture? Hear from the biggest women farmers on the continent. Find out how some young people are engaging in urban farming using innovation, technology and agritech to change the African farming landscape.


  • Women and the New Digital Economy (Access, Literacy and Entrepreneurship)

What is the 4th Industrial Revolution and how are African women uniquely positioned to lead in this future?


  • Infrastructure (Including Energy, Construction and ICT) and Increasing Women’s Participation in the Sector

The water, energy and food nexus - how are African women influencing the future of inclusive infrastructure for a sustainable future?


  • Accountability and Learning from Governmental Agencies.

Participation from governmental agencies across the continent will highlight how their national programmes are supporting women innovation, technology, infrastructure and sustainable food production.