The second edition of the Awa Prize ran from 5 September to 23 October 2023. Its central theme: “The green and circular economy.” After several selection stages, the 12 winners are now known.
A multi-stage selection process
Entries for the 2023 Awa Prize were accepted from 5 to 15 September 2023. Over these ten days, hundreds of women entrepreneurs from 20 partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation tried their luck by embarking on the Awa adventure. Building on the strong response to the first edition of the contest, no fewer than 1,647 women entrepreneurs applied for this year’s edition, which is being held under the theme of the “green and circular economy”.
Applications were checked in order to retain only a total of 586 eligible candidates for the second round. Candidates were then invited to provide more information about their business, in accordance with the award category in which they wished to compete: ‘start-up’, ‘scale-up’, ‘innovation’ or ‘People’s Choice Award’.
Based on a pre-established grid of criteria, the Awa Prize team then met the 56 women with the highest scores. These 56 interviews enabled putting a face to the issues and getting to know the women entrepreneurs.
An external jury, made up of members of diaspora associations and representatives of entrepreneurship in Belgium, finally decided the winning trio in each category. At the same time, a public vote was held among the 9 final contenders in the ‘People’s Choice Award’ category. 14.400 voters decided who the three winners are.
A colourful list of winners
The winners, with a wide range of profiles, come from 8 Enabel partner countries. A large part of Africa is represented, from Tunisia to Burundi, via Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and the DRC.
Some operate directly in sectors linked to environmental protection, while others bring innovation into sectors that are sometimes still too polluting. Waste collection and recovery, sustainable agriculture, organic product processing, non-polluting solutions: all the 2023 winners are committed to having a positive impact on their communities and the environment.
- 1st Prize – Adétola Danielle Adanlawo, Benin: Adétola is the founder and director of Ilewa, which manufactures and distributes washable and reusable baby nappies made from banana fibres. Its goal: Waste reduction (351,000 tonnes of waste per year worldwide).
- 2nd Prize – Raissa Ikuzwe, Rwanda: Raissa challenges international brands and launched Ino Coffee to give Rwandans a taste of local high-quality organic coffee. At the same time, the company trains young women and helps them find jobs.
- 3rd Prize – Mireille Niyonkuru, Rwanda: With her company BUIM, Mireille wants to bring electricity and light to rural areas in Rwanda and Burundi. By installing solar kits, BUIM aims to provide households with access to energy using safe, affordable and environmentally-friendly technology.
- 1st Prize – Mariama Diallo, Guinea: Mariama founded and runs Bilinda SARL, a company that manufactures environmentally-friendly cleaning products. Through its cleaning services the company is also creating decent jobs for almost 20 women in the community.
- 2nd Prize – Nabalo Tarnagda Larba, Burkina Faso: Nabalo co-founded the Song-Taaba Cooperative to bring out the best from a local agricultural product: shea kernels. Whether it’s shea butter, soap or ointment, the products on offer are healthy and create stable, fair jobs for the women in the region.
- 3rd Prize – Lauriane Kamuyi, DRC: Lauriane is the founder and director of Belkin Services, the only company in Kinshasa offering selective waste sorting for businesses and households. As well as collecting waste, a number of awareness-raising campaigns are being organised at national level.
- 1st Prize – Edith Kouassi, Côte d’Ivoire: Edith’s Ecoplast Innov company uses plastics and tyres to create flooring products. With the eco-friendly paving slabs and other decorative plaques, Edith creatively solves a waste management issue.
- 2nd Prize – Leila Kateferi, Burundi: KTF Concept, founded and run by Leila, provides Burundians with an environmentally-friendly alternative for domestic fuel. By recycling organic waste into biomass pellets, the company enables households to cook their meals without generating pollution.
- 3rd Prize – Bouchra Masrour, Tunisia: Bouchra founded Bahia Laboratoire, a company offering skincare and beauty products derived from sustainable and ecological agriculture products. Through her work, she links the benefits of nature with the well-being of her customers.
People’s Choice Award category
- 1st Prize – Dative Uwimana, Burundi: Ikaze Ventures, run by Dative Uwimana, offers tourists from all over the world the chance to discover the still little-known wonders of Burundi. 15% of the profits from the tours offered go to promoting environmental conservation.
- 2nd Prize – Alida Ahouandjinou, Benin: Alida promotes the OYAYI company. Based in Cotonou, this company offers natural remedies created from organically grown plants. With its resolutely ecological approach, OYAYI is also helping to empower women.
- 3rd Prize – Oumou Hawa Camara, Guinea: Oumou Hawa founded the restaurant and catering service ‘La cuisine de Hawa’. This establishment is the only one of its kind in Conakry. It focuses on local Guinean specialities prepared from fresh, locally-grown and organic produce.
Follow Enabel on social media to find out more about the winners. Their stories will be shared with you over the coming months.