He was speaking at the recently-concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States of America (USA), while moderating a panel on “African Women Making Strides in business.” The event took place inside the Sustainable Development Goals Media Zone at UN headquarters.
Citing figures from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Minister lamented the $20 billion funding gap for African women entrepreneurs, adding that just 30 percent of African women have bank accounts.
“As the son of a single mother who was an entrepreneur, I am aware that women are made to survive in shark-infested waters,” he maintained.
He listed factors inhibiting women’s progress in business leadership such as financial exclusion, gender inequality and lack of access to capital.
Mr. Swarray said, however, that he was encouraged by the stories of some African women “who are beginning to shatter the glass ceiling.”
One of the panelists, Tokunbo Kujore, the CEO of Shea Radiance Inc., said that “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted,” and reiterated the lack of access to capital and markets as a major obstacle.
Other personalities who moderated various panels in the SDG Media Zone were Michelle Bachelet, a former President of Chile and currently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Li Young, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), among others.