Please give a warm welcome to Amanda Pena. It is her first time writing for the ONE Blog. She is an intern on ONE’s government relations team.
This week, ONE hosted its third delegation of women business leaders from Africa to talk about the benefits of using social media to expand their businesses at “The Future if Africa is Female….So Get Connected,” an interactive training session.
The State Department’s African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) brought 46 women from 37 countries who specialize in three main industries: agribusiness/food processing, textiles/fashion design and home décor/accessories. From coffee exporters to shea butter manufacturers, these women are all notable business leaders in Africa looking to expand their market and networks.
ONE’s social media training was part of a three-week program to help participants enhance their advocacy and communication skills, as well as learn about accessing capital and US markets, best practices for businesses, and social entrepreneurship. In this day and age, utilizing social media channels is integral to any business plan.
Our guest speaker, Elizabeth Dearborn Davis, Cofounder and CEO of The Akilah Institute for Women, led an interactive social media training session. The Akilah Institute, less than 6 months old, offers 2-year business diplomas focused in Hospitality Management and Entrepreneurship to Rwandan women hoping to advance their careers.
Elizabeth discussed the potential of social media as a marketing tool and provided practical lessons on how to utilize Twitter and Facebook. Many of the participants had never considered using social media as a professional tool and an interesting discussion ensued on the benefits and drawbacks of social media.
According to data from SocialBankers, Facebook use has skyrocketed across Africa in the last six months alone. The amount of Facebook users has grown by 60 percent in Somalia, 84 percent in São Tomé and Principe, and over 50 percent in Tonga. Overall, nearly 42 million people in Africa use Facebook, making the continent rife with opportunity for social media marketing.
At ONE, we believe that investing in women and trade are essential components of economic growth for Africa. Female business owners are more likely to invest money in their families and communities, which means that by empowering women entrepreneurs, we can spread economic growth to entire communities. By helping AWEP members expand their networks and markets, we are helping to strengthen their ability to grow their business, create jobs, transform their communities and drive social and economic progress in their home countries.