Four African women entrepreneurs have been awarded the Awa Prize, created by Belgium to highlight promising initiatives by businesswomen and encourage female leadership in African and the Middle East, Development Cooperation Minister Caroline Gennez said in a press release.
The awards were presented on Thursday evening in the presence of Queen Mathilde.
The winners are Aminata Simpara from Mali, Credia Umuhire Ruzigana from Rwanda, Rim Machhour from Morocco and Kathia Iradukunda from Burundi.
Their projects were selected from more than 2,400 entries from 16 countries.
They will be given a week of intensive coaching and the opportunity to exchange their experience and knowledge with women entrepreneurs in Belgium. They will also receive a year of professional coaching in their home countries to further grow their businesses.
From e-trade to fighting invasive water weeds
Aminata Simpara is the founder and director of N’terini, a small company in the Malian capital, Bamako, that has been producing washable and thus reusable sanitary pads since 2021.
Credia Umuhire Ruzigana founded Imanzi Creations in 2019. Her company publishes novels, comics and board games that revive old stories and fairy tales from Rwanda’s cultural history.
Rim Machhour won the prize for Dealkhir.ma, a project focusing on solidarity e-commerce in Morocco.
Finally, Burundi's Kathia Iradukunda is the inspiration behind Hyacinth Art House, which aims to stop the invasive water hyacinth in Lake Tanganyika.
“The winners of the Awa Prize are all impressive role models,” said Minister Gennez. “I greatly admire their perseverance, creativity and guts. They will inspire countless girls and women in their own communities to follow in their footsteps.”
The Awa Prize, an initiative of Minister Gennez, is organised by Enabel, the Belgian development agency.