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Choiseul Africa 2023 Award : rewarding gender diversity

For its second edition in Africa, the Choiseul Africa Business Forum has spotlighted women. Evidence that parity in entrepreneurship is making progress on the continent.

By Mérième Alaoui, in Casablanca

Promoting African leadership is one of the missions of the Choiseul Africa Business Forum, which held its latest edition in Casablanca on November 16 and 17. Among the winners of the 2023 awards were a number of women. These included Mia Lahlou Filali from Morocco, head of Pharma 5, a leading company in the generics market in Africa. “We are a very inclusive Moroccan-African group, with 57% women. In sub-Saharan Africa, this figure rises to 70%. Two thirds of our management committee members are women,” says the head of the company founded by her father forty years ago. “My father believed in his country, in its sovereign capacity to produce medicines, and he was right. We did not stop during COVID and we continued to supply our African brothers throughout the health crisis. Morocco is very proud of that. For me, it’s the transmission of these values, this mission, and this commitment that is being celebrated today”.

Young people are the most important resource of our continent

The men were not forgotten during the awards ceremony. Several were rewarded for their commitment and sacrifice. The Digital Talent of the Year Award, for example, went to Professor Sangu Delle, CEO of CarePoint, a Ghanaian healthcare company that uses new technologies to offer a hybrid delivery model, where face-to-face services are complemented by telemedicine, enabling individuals to access quality medical care.

“I dedicate this award to all the young men and women, the young entrepreneurs across Africa who, despite the daily inconveniences and dangers of economic injustice and political dysfunction, wake up every day determined to make a difference,” the business leader declared in a confident voice.

He went on to talk about the origins of his now thriving business.  “When I first started my company seventeen years ago, the entire African venture capital ecosystem in Africa was worth between $10 and $15 million. Last year it crossed $5 billion. I think this shows that young people are the greatest resource on our continent,” he said in a speech that drew enthusiastic applause. “We talk about Africa’s mineral resources and the trillions of dollars of wealth that lies beneath the African soil. But I believe we have a thousand times more in the brains of our young people. Brilliance is evenly distributed around the world, but opportunity is not. The only thing standing between the Africa we want to see and Africa of today is opportunity,” he added.

This celebration of Africa’s youth was also the focus of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner’s speech: Nigerian Abdullahi Bashir-Haske, head of AA & R Investment Group, a Nigerian conglomerate that invests in a variety of industries, including agriculture, energy, logistics, and information and communication technologies. Abdullahi Bashir-Haske has also established a major public health foundation. “This is a great encouragement for me, but also for all young people who want to be entrepreneurial,” he said, echoing the sentiments of the other Laureates.

Highlighting the social role of these female and male leaders

Beyond their business achievements, the Choiseul Awards ceremony highlighted the social role of these female and male leaders in improving the daily lives of Africans, particularly in the area of health.

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