Empowering Women Researchers and Entrepreneurs in Africa

May 31, 2018

A Regional Forum featuring African women researchers and entrepreneurs took place from November 15 to 17, 2017 in Casablanca (Morocco), bringing together over 200 women researchers and entrepreneurs actively engaged in the agricultural and agribusiness sector.

The aim was to provide a platform for African women researchers and entrepreneurs to:

  • help them better understand the relevance of intellectual property (IP) in agriculture and agri-business;
  • to learn innovative ways to work and do business in order to effectively use the IP system for economic development and wealth creation; and
  • to apply what they have learnt in their respective areas of work.
Group photo
(Photo: Moroccan Industrial and Commercial Property Office)

Participants came from more than 50 African countries, representing diverse national and regional institutions as well as the private sector

Plenary and workshops

The Forum began with a Plenary Session which discussed the role of IP rights (IPRs) as a catalyst in fostering innovation. Discussions took place on using science, technology and innovation (STI) to transform agriculture in Africa and the importance of empowering African women in agri-business. 

After the Plenary Session, the meeting broke out into two separate workshop:

  • Workshop I focused on STI for researchers in agribusiness; and
  • Workshop II focused on IP commercialization and how to enhance product competitiveness in agribusiness.

The Plenary Session re-convened on the afternoon of Thursday November 16, 2017 and participants deliberated on:

  • the institutional framework and relevance of innovation IP policies/strategies;
  • the rationale for an IP audit and exploitation of IP assets;
  • connecting Research and Development (R&D) and the private sector for value creation;
  • promoting collaborative research; and
  • the issue of youth empowerment or “making agribusiness cool!”

This last session dedicated to experience-sharing by the young researchers and entrepreneurs was particularly lively and enriching.

Photo: Participants in the discussions
Participants actively participated in the lively discussions (Photo: WIPO).


The participants appreciated their first exposure to IPRs and understanding how the strategic use of IP tools can enhance their research and improve their business competitiveness. 

The Forum was organized by WIPO and the Japan Patent Office (JPO), under the Japan-Funds-in-Trust arrangements for Africa and Least-Developed Countries (LDCs), in cooperation with the Moroccan Industrial and Commercial Property Office (OMPIC), the National Industrial Property Institute (INPI) of France, and AWARD.

Useful resources