Kenyan entrepreneur and business leader Joanne Mwangi has been elected Chair of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) organ that deals with regional women in business.
The Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM) is a key component of COMESA that brings together 19 countries with the main objective of promoting programmes that integrate women into the trade and development activities in Eastern and Southern Africa. It also serves as a representative body and a link between the women and the policy organs of the COMESA member States, regional organizations, and international organizations whose aim is to promote trade and development.
Ms. Mwangi, becomes the first Kenyan to clinch the post. She takes over from Egyptian Dr. Amany Asfour who has been at the helm of the regional body for the last four years and is credited for rallying women to seize business opportunities in the region.
Speaking after her election, Ms Mwangi reiterated the importance of linking
African women in business with emerging opportunities. She said during her tenure, she will ensure that women in business fully take advantage of emerging opportunities in the fast growing COMESA trading bloc.
“This is a great honour not only for me but Kenya as a country. It is the first time the country has had the opportunity to chair this great initiative and therefore a huge vote of confidence in us,” she said.
She set a three-point agenda that will aim at strengthening FEMCOM in the region and ensuring that it plays its full mandate within COMESA.
“I will work to strengthen the chapter in the 19 member countries through ensuring that our members are hooked to emerging business opportunities in order to realize enhanced trade within the bloc,” said Ms Mwangi.
Formed in Zimbabwe in 1993, FEMCOM has already secured land in Malawi where the body wants to build its headquarters.
“During my tenure, I want to ensure that we construct a complex in Malawi that will serve as a nerve centre for FEMCOM.” Dr. Asfour negotiated for the property onto which this complex will stand.
Ms Mwangi promised to put specific trade policies in place aimed at enhancing trade in the region. She said she would create business networks both at the continental and country level to ensure FEMCOM achieves its goals and mandate.
Ms Mwangi is the CEO of PMS Group, a leading marketing and communications company, and is a seasoned marketer. She was the first woman to be awarded a Marketing Society of Kenya Warrior Award and has won several awards with PMS Group which she founded 15 years ago.
Ms Mwangi has also served on the boards of many organizations. She is currently the Chair of Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations, represents Kenya at the East African
Women in Business Platform and currently Vice President of the Arab
African Business Women Association (AABWA).