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The Seedstars Enhancing Women Entrepreneurship in Africa (EWEA) programme is calling for women-led small to medium enterprises as well as community enablers and entrepreneurship support programmes in Africa to apply for its mentorship, skills capacity-building workshop series.
Interested founders and enablers can sign up online before 31 December 2022.
Women entrepreneurs face multiple challenges to accessing finance, with an estimated $42 billion financing gap for African women across business value chains. According to the United Nations’ Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study, around 56% of women entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa cite either unprofitability or lack of finances as a reason for closing down their businesses.
EWEA determined some of the biggest obstacles women face in business include a lack of an enabling environment for women businesses to grow their skills, thrive, and rise to management positions. Nevertheless, in terms of potential, they are as efficient and growth-oriented as male-owned businesses.
However, these enablers are often limited in the support they are able to provide women-led small to medium enterprises due to lack of funding and network access, as well as lack of well-positioned services.
According to Malado Kaba, director of gender, women, and civil society at African Development Bank, “We know that aside from access to finance, women entrepreneurs need skills and a supportive business ecosystem.
“The Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, a flagship initiative of the African Development Bank, is pleased to work with Seedstars, which was selected as one of ten organizations in our inaugural cohort of Women’s Entrepreneurship Enablers. The project’s grants are expected to support 88 organizations reaching 540 women-led small to medium enterprises with access to 6 000 mentoring hours and 90 investors through this program across 11 countries.”
Through a collaboration with the African Development Bank’s AFAWA initiative and GrowthAfrica, the EWEA programme is set to provide long-term and scalable capacity building, access to mentorship, access to funding, and access to visibility for both WSMEs and community enablers in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zambia.
Women entrepreneurs in the region who would like to participate in the programme must meet the following requirements:
- Must be based in Africa;
- Have at least one woman on the founding team;
- Have a digital element in their product (for example: mobile application, online shop, software as a service product, etc.); and,
- Demonstrate interest in learning more about how to get ready for investment.
Women-led small to medium enterprises that participate in the EWEA programme will be provided with mentorship through the Seedstars network as well as access to the investment readiness programme through the Seedstars Online Academy.
Meanwhile, community enabler beneficiaries are understood to be entrepreneur support organisations that are any of the following:
- Groups that exclusively support WSMEs,
- Organizations that have a mix of women-dedicated and gender-agnostic activities,
- Gender-agnostic ESOs that want to expand their capacity to support WSMEs.
Participating organisations will be given access to mentorship, workshops, and a capacity-building programme through the Seedstars Online Academy.
The EWEA programme is a collaboration between the AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) Initiative, Seedstars, and GrowthAfrica. AFAWA’s first round of 10 Women Entrepreneurship Enablers can be found here.