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March 22, 2017

Africa CEO Forum: Shaping the Future of Africa

The 5th edition of the Africa CEO Forum was organized in Geneva this week to discuss “Shaping the Future of Africa” – with a particular focus on African Women in business. AXA sponsored the event for the second consecutive year to showcase its commitment to boost the continent’s overall socio-economic development and to empower African women. Jad Ariss, CEO of AXA Middle East and Africa, participated in a panel on how to develop a local leadership and help unlock Africa´s potential – focusing in particular on how to empower female talent.

The Africa CEO Forum gathers the largest African and international companies, political decision-makers from more than 40 African countries, and bankers and investors to discuss the development of the private sector and its role in shaping the future of Africa.

Africa’s women will be key to unlock the continent’s potential: female labor force participation rates are increasing throughout the continent. The number of women entrepreneurs is surging, to a point where they now represent 27% of the entrepreneurs on the continent today. This increase in professional roles for women adds to their existing roles as financial decision-makers within their household (which is the case in 31% of all households on average in Sub-Saharan Africa).

However, women across the continent still face many challenges to overcome on their path to become empowered leaders and participate fully in the economy. As a notable example, access to financing for women entrepreneurs remains a major challenge for their business’ expansion.

The private sector has a key role to play in addressing these challenges. AXA in Africa does this today for example through:

  • Empowering women internally by creating talent pipelines and support networks such as Women@AXA
  • Offering key benefits for women as mothers at the early stages of motherhood, supporting them in their multi-dimensional roles (e.g., AXA’s global parental policy, promising 16 weeks of paid leave for the primary parent)
  • Collaborating with WIMBIZ, an NGO working to develop entrepreneurship among Nigerian women
  • Partnering with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Accenture to create the She For Shield report and clearly identify women´s needs for insurance, with the objective of marketing gender-smart solutions that help to support women´s empowerment

This year’s Africa CEO Forum thus allowed AXA to showcase its commitment to growing its talent in general, and its female talent in particular, in Africa. Moreover, the Forum constitutes an important platform to establish new and nurture existing contacts that help the company to further grow its business in the dynamic African continent.

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