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Women in business Award 2008


Geneva, 2 April 2008 — Dynamic female entrepreneurs will take top honours in Accra with the presentation of the first Women in Business Award. The winner and two runners up will be chosen from among 10 nominees from developing countries.


01 April 2008

Ghana’s first lady, Mrs. Theresa Kufuor, will award the prizes at a ceremony to be attended by the three finalists on 21 April at 19:00 during the 12th ministerial session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII).

The candidates are being judged by an independent panel of international experts on the basis of criteria including innovation, entrepreneurial talent and company performance. The nominees are all owners of firms that have benefited from the business development services of Empretec. Launched by UNCTAD in Argentina in 1988 and supported by the private and public sectors, this pioneering programme promotes entrepreneurship in developing countries. Empretec affiliates have nurtured over 120,000 entrepreneurs in 27 countries with the help of more than 600 local certified trainers.

The creation of small and medium-sized enterprises is at the heart of balanced and successful economic development. What distinguishes these developing country women is their ability to surmount obstacles traditionally faced by small enterprises. At a time of cultural change in their home countries, they also act as role models for other women.

In making their selection, the judges took into account local specifics that affect company performance, such as access to finance and technology, infrastructure and market size.

The 10 Nominees for the Woman in Business Award

Dédé Léa Edith Medji, "Mon petit Bénin", Benin

This firm promotes local products, producing fruit juices and chips. Its major product is natural baobab juice, which is bottled and has a long shelf life. Company objectives include extending the health benefits of baobab and other fruit juices to greater numbers of people, and providing extra income for rural women in Benin. The firm has 13 employees and is seeking to add handicapped staff as it expands.

Elba Rosa Torrado, "Se hace camino al andar", Argentina

The firm, whose title roughly translates as "make your own road as you go," provides services to other entrepreneurs through a website and a worldwide radio broadcast via the Internet. It arranges thematic events, organizes business awards, publishes magazines, and provides consulting on entrepreneurship.

Paola Borges Barcellos Tucunduva, "ROTOVIC – Uniforme Lavandería e Locaçao Ltda", Brazil

ROTOVIC is a laundry business specializing in work uniforms and uniform rental. It is a pioneer in the use of fire-resistant uniforms, operates in an environmentally friendly fashion – such as by recycling water – and has 235 employees. Its goal is to concentrate increasingly on health and safety services by expanding rentals of protective work uniforms, providing industrial laundry services, and maintaining safety equipment.

Messeret Belihu, "Ras Amba Hotel", Ethiopia

A well-known three-star hotel, Ras Amba, employs 65 people, over half of whom are women. The hotel also has a restaurant, a wedding and meeting hall, a catering service and an airport shuttle service. With the aim of attaining four-star status, Messeret Belihu recently purchased additional land, and construction has begun on an expansion.

Augustine E. Hammond, "Jem Afrik Creations Ltd", Ghana

Jem Afrik designs and produces afro-ethnic clothing ranging from casual wear to business apparel to evening dresses. It began with a single employee behind a rented sewing machine in 1986, and now has 55 permanent employees. It has trained and mentored 15 workers who have set up their own businesses and function as subcontractors, and also has registered sales representatives in the United States, the Caribbean, and southern Africa.

Paully Apea-Kubi, "Ebenut Ghana Ltd", Ghana

This firm produces and packages dried fruits, nuts, and vegetables. These include coconut, mango, papaya, pineapple, banana, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and spicy plantain chips. Ebenut Ghana ships 10 tons of these products every five weeks to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Senegal. Domestic sales are also extensive. The firm´s goal is to triple its current output.

Irene Bacchus-Holder, "Irene´s Creative Handicraft", Guyana

This business, which now employs five people, began when Ms. Bacchus-Holder offered gifts made of wood from Guyana´s rain forest to several friends. They encouraged her to produce and sell similar items, and when she showed samples to a leading shop it immediately placed an order. The handicrafts are decorative or functional, are based on original designs, and are made of rare – but not endangered – native wood species. Often they are used as corporate gifts.

Sana Zaal Burgan, "Med Grant", Jordan

Med Grant promotes medical services in Jordan, especially to international "medical tourism" clients. Its activities are focused on a website called JoHealth.com, through which patients from around the world can obtain accurate and trustworthy information and arrange for treatment within the country. It summarizes scientific research carried out by Jordanian doctors and provides a marketplace where buyers of medical equipment can find suppliers. It also does charity work, particularly related to disease prevention, cancer, drugs, and women´s health. The business has an estimated value of US$450,000.

Sapphira Nyabunwa, "Safi Cleaning Services Ltd", Uganda

This firm provides professional cleaning services, including lawn cleaning, fumigation, garbage collection, dry cleaning, and commercial laundry work. Its corporate clientele include Shell Uganda, Stanbic Bank, Total Uganda, the World Food Programme, Celtel Uganda, Uganda Telecom, three major hospitals and the British High Commission. It has 800 employees around the country and a monthly turnover of US$88,000.

Emelda Nyasha Nyamupingidza, "Nyaya Industries t/a Zesk Products", Zimbabwe

Nyaya Industries makes candles and polishing products, and has registered affiliates in Mozambique and Malawi. Its founder, a trained chemist, started the business after she noticed a dearth of quality candles and polishes in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s. She considers the country´s current economic hardships as "a challenge, not a deterrent." Her business now employs more than 150 people and each month exports 56 tons of candles to Malawi.

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Press Office
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