In honour of International Women’s Day, MasterCard teamed up with African Women and Beyond (AWAB) in Kenya to launch the Africa Women Leadership Network (AWLN), drawing attention to the importance of financial empowerment of women on the continent.
Driven by purpose, the AWLN will bring together like-minded women from various business sectors to tackle challenges facing women in East Africa, and across the continent. The working group consisted of leading women in business and focused on: Empowering Women to be Entrepreneurs – Taking Control of their Financial Wellbeing and Future.
In attendance at the inaugural event was: Mary Muthoni Jason, Chairlady of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce, Mary Kamari from PTA Bank, Sonia Mfasoni the Country Director of Corporate Council on Africa and Sewit Ahderom from GRO Intelligence, among others.
Ann Cairns, President of International Markets for MasterCard travelled to Kenya to celebrate the important day by officially launching the initiative with Martine Kappel, a well-known philanthropist on the continent.
Cairns mentioned that the AWLN has been established to identify solutions, and to put these solutions into action. She said that the initiative has been spearhead by MasterCard as the company’s broader commitment to connect 500 million people globally through the development of partnerships. She further highlighted that Daniel Monehin, as the champion of Financial Inclusion for International Markets at MasterCard would play an active role in the implementation of the AWLN.
MasterCard’s commitment speaks directly to people excluded from formal financial services, many of which are women. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex Report, only 58 percent of women are financially included, compared to 65 percent of men.
MasterCard also supports a broad range of women’s and children’s causes in Africa through scholarships, financial assistance, educational programs and various sustainability programs, helping to provide women with the knowledge and skills required to be financially independent, allowing them to support themselves and their families.
“When women are empowered through entrepreneurship and technology, they are able to make significant contributions to their economies. Technology helps to produce a more financially inclusive environment. For example: mobile devices have a current penetration of 700 million users in Sub-Saharan Africa and are invariably at the forefront of giving women the power to transact, connect, locate and search, changing how they engage with digital payment solutions,” said Cairns.
The Government of Kenya, in recognition of the role that women play in their community and to economic development, has made provision for 33 percent of Government jobs and procurement opportunities to be accessed by women. Typically, women have been held back from making contributions in key areas such as economic growth, nutrition and food security.
“Women play a pivotal role in society – as role models, business leaders, and community builders – and we endeavor to empower even more women and girls to be positive change-makers. This partnership with MasterCard will help us nurture and empower more women on their road to success,” says Martine Kappel, Co-founder of African Women and Beyond.