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Businesswomen from Uganda and Ghana were second and third as Jordanian entrepreneur takes first prize at UNCTAD’s debut women in business awards

Accra, 21 April 2008

Sana Zaal Burgan, founder of a business that caters to international "medical tourism" clients seeking treatment in Jordan, won the inaugural UNCTAD Women in Business Award at a ceremony Monday at the UNCTAD XII quadrennial conference in Accra, Ghana. Ms. Burgan’s firm, called Med Grant, was begun with US$3,000 and is now worth an estimated $450,000. She received the prize from Tarja Halonen, President of Finland.

Second place went to Sapphira Nyabunwa of Uganda, whose firm, Safi Cleaning Services Ltd., based in the capital of Kampala, provides professional cleaning services, has 800 employees around the country, and realizes a monthly turnover of US$88,000.

Third prize was awarded to Augustine E. Hammond of Ghana, whose business, Jem Afrik Creations Ltd., designs and produces afro-ethnic clothing ranging from casual wear to business apparel to evening dresses. It began with a single employee in 1986 and now has 55 permanent employees and 15 trained and mentored workers who have set up their own businesses and function as subcontractors.

The three were among 10 finalists selected from among women entrepreneurs who have participated in Empretec, an UNCTAD-run programme that trains promising entrepreneurs in developing countries. There are 27 Empretec centres worldwide. The winners were selected by a panel of experts in entrepreneurship.

“These women are pioneers of development, and can be role models for others," said UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi. "I hope that UNCTAD’s new ’Women in Business Award’ will serve to highlight the challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship, and provide an incentive for women in all countries to rise to the challenge and become entrepreneurs.” Ms. Burgan said "The EMPRETEC programme in Jordan offered training that helped me to improve my business in different ways. I realized that I am not crazy and that thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world share my personality traits. Being one of the top three finalists selected … has greatly boosted my morale and self esteem."

Ms. Nyabunwa of Uganda, who received her second-place award from Ghanaian First Lady Thersea Kufuor, said "I would like to see my business, which has won contracts to service most of the leading companies in Kampala, remain the No. 1 cleaning service in the country. It has provided work for many young people, including the disadvantaged and school dropouts."

Ms. Hammond, the third-place winner, said "After attending the maiden edition of the EMPRETEC training workshop in 1990, I became aware of the opportunities that existed in the industry. Through EMPRETEC Ghana, one of the financial institutions with a stake in the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF), I was able to get a loan to acquire new tools." She received her prize from Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and current Director of the organization Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative.

The awards consist of study tours to selected institutions where innovation is strongest in the domains relevant to the winning businesses. Depending upon the specific needs of the firms involved, the prizes may be used for participation in training, seminars, or networking events.

• First prize is a a study tour worth US$ 6,000. 
,,,,,, • Second prize is a study tour worth US$ 3,000 
,,,,,, • And third prize is a study tour worth US$ 1,500.

The tours will be organized by UNCTAD in collaboration with the African Technology Development Forum (ATDF).

The 2008 Women in Business Awards are intended to be the first of a annual series.

Published on 31 August 2008
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