Entrepreneur and an international development specialist with over 25 years working experience in Europe and Africa.


Irene Ochem is currently the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF). AWIEF is a pan-African, non-profit women’s economic empowerment organization that works to promote and support women enterprise and innovation across Africa. She is also Owner and Managing Director of ICO Conferences & Events Limited, an international professional conference planning, production and event management company based in South Africa and Nigeria.


Prior to becoming an Entrepreneur, Irene spent over 25 years living and working in different countries between Europe and Africa. Amongst others, she spent ten years working for United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and later worked as International Consultant for United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). She worked two years as Research Administration Manager for University of Cape Town.


Irene holds Bachelor and post-graduate degrees from University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria), University of Trieste (Italy) and an MBA from University of London (UK). Other post-graduate qualifications are in project management and gender and trade-related issues.


Irene is the designer and convener for three years running of the annual Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum conference and exhibition event held across different African countries. She is passionate about female entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment. She writes, speaks and participates widely in international meetings on women and gender.


A professional conference organizer (PCO), Irene has developed, produced and managed numerous large, international, multi-stakeholder and high-profile conferences, conventions, summits, and forums in various industry sectors including health, energy and power, international development, education, agriculture, ICTs, and entrepreneurship. She has engaged and worked with speaking faculties ranging from Ministers, ex-Heads of Governments, Ambassadors, Nobel Laureates, Heads of Industry Associations, International Organizations, Company Chairpersons and CEOs through to more technical representatives in scientific and engineering disciplines, international development, business/entrepreneurship, trade, investment and finance.


Irene is a member of SAACI (Southern African Association for the Conference Industry) and SATI (South African Translation Institute). She speaks four languages.


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