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FemBioBiz, a local biosciences accelerator aimed at women entrepreneurs, will partner with organisations in eight African countries in the roll out of its second season.
The FemBioBiz programme — an initiative of the BioFISA flagship initiative, a Nepad and the Finish government partnership — aims to develop leadership, tech and business skills in female-owned businesses in the SADC region. The initiative also aims to support deal-making and businesses acceleration in biosciences.
Applications for this year’s programme opened this month and will close on 20 April. A regional final pitch event is set to be held between September and November, with the location and date yet to be decided on.
In the first season over 100 women received training, with the top 15 competing at the 2017 SA Innovation Summit. Three selected winners each received between R100 000 and R250 000 in addition to an opportunity to attend Slush 2017.
Speaking today at a FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme stakeholder meeting at the V&A Waterfront today in Cape Town, BioFISA II chief technical advisor Marja-Reetta Paaso said the organisers were so impressed by the results from the first session held last year that a decision was take to run a second one.
“The intention was to have it once. It turned out to be a success and we decided to run it again,” said Paaso (pictured above, left).
The FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme is open to female bio-tech entrepreneurs from the 13 SADC member states and is actively implemented in eight countries
But with the BioFISA II Progamme — a four year platform for innovative research and collaboration — set to end next year, this could be the last season of the acceleration programme.
“I hope it (FemBioBiz programme) finds a home somewhere and continues to support the important task we are doing — supporting women entrepreneurs,” said Paaso.
Earlier this month, BioFISA II announced that it was partnering with the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) to run this year’s programme in South Africa.
Whereas the first season focused on training, the second season aims to focus on helping participants get incubation support from the country co-ordinators.
The local partners the organisation will work with as country coordinators this year are; Seychelle’s National Institute of Science Technology and Innovation, DEV Mozambique, Malawi’s mHUb, Zimbabwe’s National Biotechnology Authority, Namibia’s National Commission on Research Science and Technology, and the Botswana Innovation Hub.
Paaso said those applicants from SADC countries that don’t have a country co-ordinator will be seconded to the nearest country that has a country co-ordinator.
Today’s event was attended by academics from UCT, and representatives from the state’s Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), business support organisation Seedlab, incubator Shanduka Black Umbrellas as well as biotech companies Cape Bio Pharms and BioTech Africa.
Featured image: BioFISA II Programme chief technical advisor Marja-Reetta Paaso in conversation with Ventureburn writer Daniel Mpala