Djassi Africa launches innovative programme to empower African female entrepreneurs

Djassi Africa, a venture building company focused on African innovators, has launched a ground-breaking new programme that is tailored to empowering female entrepreneurs in Africa through personal development.

sheLEADS is focused on providing female entrepreneurs with the skills and tools to grow their personal brand

Titled sheLEADS, the programme is focused on providing African female entrepreneurs with the tools to grow their personal brand and develop themselves as an individual and leader.

Fernando Cabral, Chief of Venture Growth at Djassi Africa explains that the inspiration to create the innovative sheLEADS programme stems from a lack of personal development opportunities available to African female entrepreneurs. 

“As part of the investment work and venture build we have been doing, we have been working with a lot of female founders in the Lusophone Africa countries and we found that some of the most powerful ideas and projects are coming from female founders, which is not a surprise to us. We are finding that although they have great ideas and building great startups and products, there is one piece that is missing and that is the confidence part of it. Most of the work that the venture builders, ecosystem builders, incubators, and accelerators do, is around the startup itself from product-market fit to investment readiness but what we have found is that the individual and human side is not addressed. This is where the inspiration for sheLEADS came from, we believe that bringing the focus on the individual and personal development to the forefront can equip female founders with the skills to excel both as an individual and within the startup ecosystem.”


The virtually-held first edition of the programme began on 1 May 2021 and will take place over three months ending in July 2021. 

Twenty internally selected female entrepreneurs originating from the five countries in Lusophone Africa, namely Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, and Sao Tome are taking part in the first edition of the sheLEADS programme.

Rudolphe Cabral, Chief Venture Innovation at Djassi Africa points out that the programme is addressing several challenges faced by African female entrepreneurs. 

“The challenges that we are addressing with the implementation of this innovative programme are the lack of self-confidence, motivation, personal development opportunities, and basic leadership skills. Basic self-leadership skills are critical to thriving not only as an entrepreneur but also as a professional and individual in the world today. The programme also addresses the lack of development of personal branding. It is very important to not only build incredible products but also to create a strong personal brand.”

The programme is part of Djassi Africa’s investment in innovators, being free of charge for the participants, and is conducted in two phases. 

Phase one of the programme is conducted over four weeks and focuses on core concepts. Masterclasses will be held on an array of topics aligned to three development areas: personal empowerment, projection of power, and leadership.

Each participant will also have the opportunity to craft their own personal development plan.

Phase two is hands-on and practical as participants partake in workshops, simulations, personal branding labs, personal development clinics, and engage with top-notch experts along with being provided a designated coach (‘’personal trainer”) who is dedicated to assisting them in achieving their personal development plan targets. 

In addition, mentorship will be provided to participants by senior female leaders whose role is to act as role models and inspire the participating entrepreneurs.

Requirements for applicants

The pilot programme was not open to external applications but its participants were selected by Djassi Africa within its existing pipeline and other programs that they have been supporting.

“We picked the top 20 that we are working with for the first edition,” explains Fernando Cabral.

The following requirements were applied for participating entrepreneurs:

– Participants either are building or have an idea to develop a digital-enabled startup

– Being an African or Afro-descendant, regardless of location 

– Building a viable solution that addresses a challenge in Africa 

– There is no age restriction applicable 

“There is no financial prize as this is a development programme, that aims to equip participants with the necessary skills for personal growth.”

The importance of personal development and branding

Rudolphe Cabral points out that as a complement to other programmes in the ecosystem, sheLEADS focuses on the individual. 

“We believe that this makes sheLEADS unique as it helps the participants to build internal power and to align it with their personal brand. Additionally, the programme brings a range of African countries together and facilitates an important discussion centered around the importance of personal development. 

While other programmes in the industry strongly focus on business development, Djassi believes that personal growth is essential to business growth and must be addressed.

“It is easier to focus on the business model as its tangible but the sheLEADS programme addresses the individual to create a path of self-improvement as a leader. The level of experts that are taking part in the programme and assisting the participating entrepreneurs are top-notch. Lastly, sheLEADS aims at being practical rather than theorical.”

The future of sheLEADS

Djassi Africa plans to host the programme twice a year.

“Djassi Africa is already thinking about a second edition of the programme which will be open to Pan African applicants. We plan to run two editions of the programme each year,” concludes Fernando Cabral. 

Read more: South African edtech WeThinkCode launches Durban Campus
Read more: Female-led investment company Crystal Partners launches in SA

Featured image: Fernando Cabral, Chief of Venture Growth and Rudolphe Cabral, Chief Venture Innovation at Djassi Africa (Supplied)



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