The maiden EMPRETEC Women in Business Awards was held on Monday at the ongoing 12th ministerial session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) with three women winning prizes for study tours to enhance their entrepreneurial skills.
The three who were chosen from 10 nominees from developing countries received $6,000, $3,000, and $1,500 respectively.
They were Ms Sanaa Zaal Burgen of Jordan, who won the first study tour cash prize of $6,000, Ms Sapphira Nyabunwa of Uganda who came second, took the second study tour cash prize of $3,000 and Ms Augustina Hammond, a Ghanaian, won the bronze award with a cash prize of $1,500 for a study tour.
Ms Burgen of Jordan founded Med Grant that promotes medical services in her country to clients world- wide.
Through her website, called JoHealth.com, she provides accurate medical information for patients all over the world to access and arrange for treatment in the country.
The site also summarises scientific research carried out by Jordanian doctors and provides a market place where buyers of medical equipment find suppliers.
Coupled with that, she also does charity work related to disease prevention and women’s health.
The estimated value of her business is $450,000.
The second award winner, Ms Nyabunwa of Uganda, runs Safi Cleaning Services Ltd, a cleaning firm based in Kampala that provides professional cleaning services, including lawn cleaning, fumigation, garbage collection, dry cleaning and commercial laundry work to individuals and corporate clients such as Shell Uganda, Stanbic Bank, Total Uganda, and the World Food Programme.
She employs 800 people and her business makes a monthly turnover of $88,000.
Ms Hammond of Ghana, who won the third prize, founded Jem Afrik Creations Limited, an afro-ethnic clothing range, from casual wear to business apparel and evening dresses.
She begun in 1986 with a single employee but now has 55 permanent staff and has trained and mentored 15 workers who have set up their own businesses and function as sub contractors and registered sales representatives in the United States, the Caribbean and southern Africa.
EMPRETEC is an initiative of UNCTAD, launched in Argentina in 1988, to promote entrepreneurship in developing countries.
It was initiated as a result of studies which showed that healthy economic growth depended on the creation of small and medium scale businesses.
Since its inception, the programme has nurtured over 120,000 entrepreneurs in 27 developing countries.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Mr Supachai Panitchpakdi, stressed the importance of the awards ceremony, which he said was "an important complement to our discussions in the World Investment Forum".
For him, the right governmental policies and regulator framework for investment and development went hand-in-hand with a vibrant private sector and entrepreneurship.
"The role of entrepreneurial skills is crucial in development and governments should bear this in mind when developing their development strategies" he added.
Mr Panitchpakdi said a holistic and coherent policy framework was therefore essential to developing entrepreneurial skills and spurring the creation of new enterprises.
Within that framework, the complementary roles of governments, the private sector and the donor community in creating an enabling environment for business development had to be addressed.
Particularly, Mr Panitchpakdi said the roles of women deserved attention in that context, as women entrepreneurs faced the additional burden of succeeding in a business environment that was male dominated.
He described the award winners as "pioneering women" who "exemplified the spirit of entrepreneurship and the success of local development initiatives". He said they served as role models for other business women, spearheading a process of cultural change in their communities.
Mr Panitchpakdi expressed his appreciation to collaborating partners of the inaugural UNCTAD/EMPRETEC Women in Business Awards, that is, the African Technology Development Forum (ADRF), which provided planning and co-ordination of the study tours for the award winners and the government of Italy for its financial contribution to the award.
The First Lady of Ghana, Mrs Theresa Kufuor, presented the third award to Ms Hammond, while the former President of Ireland and President of Realising Rights: The Ethical Globalisation Initiatiative, Mrs Mary Robinson and the President of Finland, Ms Tarja Halonen presented the second and first prize respectively to the winners.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008 PG 11