Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa: Connecting Africa to the Commonwealth World

Johannesburg – “Empowered women empower women!”  Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa launched on 25 October 2017 across Africa as a strategic regional partner to Commonwealth Businesswomen, working towards women economic empowerment and leadership and connecting businesswomen in Africa to the Commonwealth world.


Commonwealth Businesswomen is a platform to upskill, empower and uplift women and to enable and encourage trade for women in business across the 52 countries of the Commonwealth.  CBW Africa is about harnessing the potential and power of women in order to drive economic growth within Africa and this platform affords us that opportunity,” comments Xanopia Director and Director of Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa, Farzana Varachia.

Commonwealth Businesswomen’s mission is to build an effective organisation of women business professionals committed to the creative exchange and development of business.  This is achieved by empowering women across the Commonwealth and assisting in forging new business relationships, creating opportunities for trade and collaboration and aiding in the development of new skills and knowledge.

CBW is the only accredited membership organisation that is recognised by the 52 official Commonwealth governments across the five continents for women economic empowerment.  It connects and supports women entrepreneurs at all stages of their business journeys, especially within small and medium enterprises,” adds Varachia.

The Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network works in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the UN and is a strategic partner with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.  The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of the 52 independent and equal sovereign states whose shared values and principles are inscribed in the Commonwealth Charter and is home to 2.4 billion people, which includes both advanced economies and developing countries.

The Commonwealth’s commitment to its values of democracy, rule of law and a free press provide a global ‘stamp of approval’ which helps to attract long-term and sustainable investment,” comments Brendan Vickers, Economic Adviser on Regional Trade and Integration Issues for the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Commonwealth Businesswomen focuses on highlighting the areas that are preventing women from fulfilling their potential. The focus is on a business and providing the necessary tools, support and connectivity for that business’ journey on a secure platform. 

The Commonwealth Businesswomen programme is geared towards TRADE, TALENT AND TRAINING.  Key benefits of membership include:

  • Navigated ACCESS to a global network of entrepreneurial communities across the 52 Commonwealth countries and access to Commonwealth ‘power’ networks;
  • Access to EDUCATION with e-learning courses and training (entrepreneurship, procurement and Women on Boards);
  • Access to TRADE with credible businesses in the 52 Commonwealth Countries and funding opportunities;
  • Showcase your TALENT with the opportunity to enter the official Commonwealth awards;
  • Becoming a member of a SUPPORTIVE community of dynamic women committed to the success of their business and success of the organisation;
  • REWARDING you with resources to improve your business, connecting with other women who are mastering the art of doing business in your area.

By tapping into Africa’s vast resource pool, Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa will leverage opportunities for integration across Africa, which will include market integration, infrastructure (i.e. transport, communications, energy networks), transformation via service sectors, intra-regional trade in food products and manufacturing and informal trade.

The ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ has estimated to provide a 19% uplift in trade compared to that of non-Commonwealth nations of similar economic circumstances.  By 2020, 40% of the global workforce will be in the Commonwealth, which is expected to add a further 800 million people to its workforce.”

How does membership work? Each member pays R250/month to tap into the resources made available through the Commonwealth and its dedicated patrons of industry (a panel of industry experts in different sectors). New members can sign up by visiting the Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa website ( for more information.

Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa is made up of independent National Leadership Groups across 18 countries namely Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Xanopia Women’s Business Group is the official license holder of Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa, which oversees the 18 African Commonwealth National Leadership Groups.

Over and above the ‘Patrons of Industry’ which are in place in each country to act as mentors, provide training and support, the Board of Directors for Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa is made up of powerhouse women business professionals who have excelled in their industries and who bring value, expertise and leadership to the programme. 

The Commonwealth Businesswomen Africa Directors are:

  • Farzana Varachia (CEO of Xanopia Women’s Business Group; director on the board for Commonwealth Businesswomen Global);
  • Shaaista Khan Osman (CEO of leading events and lifestyle management company, Blu Blood and the Strategic Operations Management Company for CBW Africa);
  • Shamima Essop (legal sector, founder & chairperson of Women’s Interest in Africa’s Future) and
  • Zaheerah Bham-Ismail (NGOs; speech & language therapist; board member)

Commonwealth Businesswomen.  Strengthening the Commonwealth.  Building Businesses.  Advancing Women.  52 Countries.  One Platform.