Female empowerment, technology, innovation and fabrics at the Italia Africa Business Week

Italy Africa Business Week is a place of fashion, identity messages and equal exchanges

The first economic forum between Italy and the African continent has been held in Italy for the past six years: the Italia Africa Business Week. The forum, promoted by the association Le Reseau, it has the particularity of being the only event in Italy to compare businesswomen, entrepreneurs, institutions, banks, investors, Third Sector entities and diaspora organizations, in a single place to promote economic and commercial exchanges between Italian and African realities. The Made in Italy And know-how excel for the quality of their products and production techniques all over the world, and it is from this assumption that they find fertile ground in meeting the expertise and needs of African states, giving rise to innovative, creative synergies and unique in many sectors including: the ecological transition, health systems, agribusiness and fashion.

The sixth edition held in the month of November in the heart of Rome, in addition to the succession of B2B, round tables and workshops, brought out transversal results that presage a cultural and social change in Italy. To analyze some of these results we asked a Mehret Tewolde Weldemicael, Chief Executive of IABW, to give us an insight into some key themes that characterized the last edition of the Forum.

Eritrean by birth and Italian by adoption, she worked for about 30 years at the Vatican Bank, now through the Le Réseau association she promotes female empowerment, gender equality, international cooperation activities and win-win relations between Italy and Africa.

The sixth edition, like the previous ones, was full of colored fabrics, what is IABW on a visual level and what is the link between fabrics and identity?

IABW is an economic event where several realities meet with a single objective (to stimulate economic relations in a win-win way), however the fact that the forum was born on the initiative of a diasporic association sets other objectives such as that of proposing a different narrative of African and Afro-descendant people.

“Fashion” or “outfits” that we have seen in this and past editions represent much more than a personal taste; they transmit gods identity messages very strong especially when it comes to African fabrics. African fabrics have the power, through symbols and types of material, to convey a story, a status and a provenance. Just think of all the people who have worn the Kente (Ghana), Ndop (Cameroon), Faso Dan Fani (Burkina Faso) and the Bogolan (Mali) clearly identifiable fabrics, with an ancient tradition that are used to create customized and, often, specific tailored suits for special occasions.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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