Some of the award winners at the event
Recognition awards have been conferred on 21 influential business leaders and entrepreneurs under 8 broad categories in West Africa at the fourth Regional Symposium and Awards Ceremony at Fiesta Royale Hotel. The theme for this year’s award ceremony was ‘Intra Regional Trade’.
The Regional Symposium and Awards Ceremony is an annual recognition program organized by CEO Global-South Africa in partnership with African Aurora Business Network (AABN) to uplift and recognize the efforts of leading men and women across the African continent, providing a platform to celebrate their achievements. It also affords attendees the opportunity to broaden their understanding of regional economics and networks.
This year, over 4,908 nominations were received for potential winners across West Africa. The recognition process was rigorous, with a four-tier judging process and auditing by KPMG to ensure that the processes are equitably applied to all participants.
Mrs. Annelize Wepener giving her welcome address
In her opening remarks at the ceremony, Mrs. Annelize Wepener (Executive Director, CEO Global-South Africa), commended the finalists and winners for making it this far.
“We have been at the forefront of this recognition for the past 16 years and this year’s finalists and winners represent some of the very best we have had the privilege of recognizing.” She noted.
Further, Mrs. Wepener acknowledged the support received from AABN for continuously making this awards ceremony a success each year.
Mr. Carl Wepener engaging the panelists
The event had two panel discussions, facilitated by Mr. Carl Wepener (Finance and HR Director, CEO Global), who asked the panelists engaging questions on doing business in Africa and youth unemployment in Africa respectively.
Mrs. Awurabena Okrah (left), Dr.Leticia Osafo-Addo (middle) and Mrs. Maureen Odoi (right)
The first panel comprised Mrs. Maureen Odoi (Executive Director, AABN), Mrs. Awurabena Okrah (Chief Executive Officer, Winglow Clothes & Textiles Limited) and Dr. Leticia Osafo-Addo (Managing Director, Samba Foods Limited) who shared their experiences and views on the topic ‘Insights- Perspectives on doing business in Africa’.
Mr. Wepener opened the discussion with the following question, “What are some of your lessons learnt from doing business in Africa?”
Mrs. Okrah touched on the importance of fostering good relations with all levels of stakeholders and government in realizing strategic aims. “When doing business in Africa, one must also consider his or her Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This goes a long way in promoting your brand.” She added.
Lamenting on the problems facing young entrepreneurs when venturing into business, Ms. Ohenewaa Osei-Appiah, an aspiring entrepreneur at the ceremony, asked the panelists the right person or agency to consult when starting a business.
Mrs. Maureen Odoi answering a question from one of the young entrepreneurs
Mrs. Odoi encouraged the youth to be persistent in ensuring that they bring their business ideas to light and recommended agencies like AABN poised to support the goals of such young entrepreneurs through training and advisory services.
Mrs. Bernice Dapaah (left), Mr. Ralph Sasse (middle), Mrs. Karen Halm (right)
The second panel comprising Mrs. Bernice Dapaah (Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiatives), Mr. Ralph Sasse (News Consultant of Media General Group) and Mrs. Karen Halm (Chief Operations Officer of Spektra Designs Limited) also shared their views on the topic, ‘The contribution government and corporate can make to accelerate the development of SME’s & Youth development’.
According to Mr. Wepener, SME development cuts across sectors, involves multiple stakeholders and necessitates concerted actions by the public and private sectors. Therefore, SME development should be mainstreamed into the national development framework.
Mr. Wepener asserted that there are often a lot of value locked up within the well-established SME. He asked, “In what ways do panelists think this can be unlocked?”
Mrs. Bernice Dapaah speaking at the panel discussion
In response, Mrs. Dapaah shared her experiences that there are a lot of calls for applications and nominations available for the youth and SMEs to apply for funds. However, the processes involved in accessing these funds were cumbersome especially for young aspiring entrepreneurs.
Towards solving the problem, Mrs. Dapaah advised that the government creates an enabling legal, regulatory and administrative environments, for the youth and SMEs to get access to funds for their business. Also, she appealed to the leading SMEs to mentor the youth in business.
Mrs. Francesca Opoku giving her keynote address
The Keynote speaker for the ceremony, Mrs. Francesca Opoku (Chief Executive Officer of Solution Oasis Limited) speaking on the theme, “Intra Regional Trade” touched on the challenges businessmen and women face when doing business in Africa.
“We have often complained that Europe and other continents have raised both artificial and real trade barriers to prevent us from entering their markets. However, right here within the continent is a good number economic trade blocks that prevent free and easy movement for goods and services within the region.” She said.
Mrs. Opoku urged the participants to use their power of advocacy to change the current situation facing them for infrastructure needed for facilitation of increased intra African trade.
Mrs. Edith Darkwa presenting a Country and Regional Award for Education to Ms. Elizabeth Armah (CEO, Little Treasures Montessori School). Looking on were Mrs. Maureen Odoi and Mrs. Annelize Wepener.
The event concluded with the awards ceremony where leading men and women were awarded in 8 broad categories: Business and Professional Services, ICT, Manufacturing and Engineering, Media, Education and Training Academic, SME, Tourism and Leisure, Welfare and Civil Society Organization, and Public Enterprise.
The highly coveted awards ceremony was attended by seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders including Mr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson (former President, Association of Ghana Industries), Mr. C. C. Bruce Jnr. (Chief Operations Officer, Enterprise Group) and Mrs. Edith Darkwa (Chief Executive Officer, Business and Financial Times).
Some of the seasoned entrepreneurs and achievers who received awards as Country and Regional Winners at the ceremony were: Mrs. Awurabena Okrah (CEO, Winglow Clothes and Textiles), Ms. Adenike Adeyanju Osadolor (CEO, ABBI Books), Dr. Leticia Osafo-Addo (MD, Samba Foods Limited), Mr. Paul Orajiaka (CEO, Auldon Limited), Ms. Ethel Cofie (CEO, EDEL Technology Consulting), Mrs. Bernice Dapaah (CEO, Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiatives), Ms. Elizabeth Armah (Founder, Little Treasures Montessori School), Ms. Comfort Sakoma (CEO, Poize Media Limited) and Prof. Oyelami Benjamin Oyediran (Dean Faculty of Natural and Applied Science, Plateau State University Bokkos).
The Continental Awards, geared towards elevating the achievements of entrepreneurs and business leaders and identifying continental winners from a pool of regional winners and lifetime achievers, is slated for November 2nd in South Africa.
Nominations for the 2017 Regional Symposium and Awards Ceremony are opened. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Albert on +233(0) 264 383 293 for more information.
ABOUT AFRICAN AURORA BUSINESS NETWORK (AABN)
AABN is an enterprise development organization that provides business advisory services to SMEs, youth groups, business and women enterprise networks. AABN serves its clients through a team of experienced Certified Business Advisors who have a combined 140 years expertise in business development. Part of our mission is to empower micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs), stakeholders and its environment through strategic partnerships. The Wise Connections International Conference (WCIC) /Regional Symposium and Awards Ceremony is a platform for disseminating business advisory services and rewarding entrepreneurs who have distinguished themselves.
AABN is currently celebrating a decade of Global Impact, Agribusiness, Innovations through Training and Business Advisory Services while empowering the youth in Sustainable Enterprise through her annual WCIC.
ABOUT CEO GLOBAL-SOUTH AFRICA
CEO Global focuses on identifying and connecting Africa’s most influential business leaders. The regular engagement we have with these leaders provides us with an opportunity to develop knowledge products, which reflect contemporary business challenges and innovative thinking around these.