The 8th Women in Business Awards, hosted during the World Investment Forum 2023 by UNCTAD, illuminated the entrepreneurial achievements of women from developing nations. These remarkable women not only attained success in their ventures but also embraced business models that foster positive change for both society and the environment.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – October 19, 2023 – The event was a platform to honor the vision, passion, and commitment of entrepreneurs who shattered age-old glass ceilings, introduced groundbreaking ideas, and paved new paths.
Jovia Kisakye: A Sustainable Solution to Malaria
Top Prize: Empretec Award
Jovia Kisakye, founder and CEO of Sparkle Agro Brands, emerged as a shining example of entrepreneurial brilliance. Her business, rooted in her native Uganda, not only combats malaria but also supports small dairy farmers. Kisakye’s company transforms spoiled milk into a sustainable mosquito-repellent lotion, free from harsh chemicals. Since 2019, they’ve sold 100,000 lotion units, with a significant portion dedicated to refugee areas. Sparkle Agro Brands also empowers women, with half of its top management positions held by women.
Jessica Anuna: Bridging the Digital Payment Gap in Africa
Technology Award Winner
Jessica Anuna, the founder and CEO of Klasha, addressed a pressing e-commerce challenge in Africa: cross-border payments. Her company acts as a digital bridge between global businesses and African consumers, eliminating the complexities of country-specific payment connections and currency conversions. Klasha facilitates payments in local currencies, such as M-Pesa for Kenyans and Naira bank cards for Nigerians. With operations spanning six African countries, Klasha ensures Africans can access goods and services with ease.
Sarah Al Jishi: Cultivating Microbiological Culture
Encouragement Award Recipient
Sarah Al Jishi, the founder and CEO of Sedra, hailing from Saudi Arabia, was recognized for her leadership in manufacturing ready-to-use microbiological culture media. These essential nutrients are pivotal for the growth of micro-organisms used in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and food and beverage. Al Jishi’s innovative approach has not only made her one of the first Saudi women to establish a manufacturing business but has also fostered a culture of innovation and continuous learning for women in the medical sector.
Beyond Recognition: Celebrating Resilience and Innovation
The Women in Business Awards serve as a testament to the resilience and innovation of women entrepreneurs. They highlight the diverse challenges—social, cultural, and structural—that women overcome to establish and expand their businesses. Despite women representing only a third of entrepreneurs worldwide, these awards demonstrate that women are a force capable of driving global change.
A Global Platform for Exceptional Entrepreneurs
The winners were selected from a pool of 88 candidates originating from 26 different countries. This selection process, involving an international panel of business leaders, academics, and business organization officials, narrowed down the pool to 18 finalists.
Empretec Award Finalists
- Maria Eduarda Franklin da Costa de Paula, CEO and Co-founder, Orby, Brazil
- Norsavina Kaharudin, CEO of VNI Scientific Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
- Jovia Kisakye, founder and CEO of Sparkle Agro Brands, Uganda
- Iram Maimuna, CEO of E-waste social, India
- Dina Abdul Majeed, founder and CEO of 360Moms, Jordan
- Fatoumata Njie, founder and CEO of Yaxare, The Gambia
- Marianela Pavicich, co-founder of Robbina Inclusive Design, Argentina
- Ararat Tamirat, founder of Tuba By Ararat, Ethiopia
- Selamawit Tomas, owner and CEO of COOL, Ethiopia
- Laura Villagómez, CEO of DIYCLUB Fashion and Sewing Academy, Ecuador
Technology Award Finalists
- Jessica Anuna, CEO of Klasha, Nigeria
- Mylene Chua-Magleo, co-founder and CEC of Paynamics, Philippines
- Amanda Etuk, co-founder of Messenger, Nigeria
- Afia Fitriati, CEO of Gadjian, Indonesia
- Nazish Hussain, founder of Secret Stash, Pakistan
- Anum Kamran, founder of Buyon, Pakistan
- Nadia Uwamahoro, founder and CEO of Data Systems Ltd, Rwanda
- Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka, CEO of Traders of Africa, Nigeria
Empretec: A Catalyst for Entrepreneurship in Developing Nations
Many of the finalists are graduates of UNCTAD’s Empretec capacity-building program, designed to nurture entrepreneurs and small business owners in developing countries. Since 1988, Empretec has trained over half a million entrepreneurs from such nations. With 41 national business development centers worldwide, 40 international master trainers, and 600 local certified trainers, Empretec continues to be a driving force behind entrepreneurial excellence.