Women-led small to medium enterprises (WSMEs), as well as community enablers and entrepreneurship support programs in Africa, are encouraged to apply for the Enhancing Women Entrepreneurship in Africa (EWEA) program’s mentorship and skill-building workshop series.
African women entrepreneurs have an estimated $42 billion financing deficit across all business value chains, which presents a number of obstacles to their ability to obtain capital. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor research by the United Nations, almost 56% of women company owners in Sub-Saharan Africa mention either low profitability or a lack of funding as the reason for shuttering their enterprises.
Malado Kaba, Director of Gender, Women, and Civil Society at the African Development Bank, stated that in addition to having access to capital, female entrepreneurs require skill development and a favorable business environment. The African Development Bank’s flagship initiative, Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, is happy to collaborate with Seedstars, which was chosen as one of the ten organizations for our first cohort of Women’s Entrepreneurship Enablers. The grants from the initiative are anticipated to help 88 organizations reach 540 WSMEs in 11 countries and provide them with access to 6,000 hours of mentoring.
According to EWEA, one of the major challenges women in business confront is the absence of an environment that fosters skill development, commercial success, and management advancement. However, in terms of potential, they are just as effective and growth-oriented as companies run by men.
Incubators, accelerators, university-based innovation hubs, maker spaces, technology parks, and co-working spaces, among many others, have opened their doors over the years to encourage more women-owned enterprises across the continent.
However, these enablers frequently have a limited capacity for supporting WSMEs due to a lack of resources, including money, network connectivity, and well-placed services.
The EWEA program will offer long-term and scalable capacity building, access to mentorship, access to funding, and access to visibility for both WSMEs and community enablers in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zambia. This will be done through collaboration with the AFAWA initiative of the African Development Bank and GrowthAfrica.
To be eligible for the program, women business owners in the area must fulfill the following criteria:
- 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.
WSMEs that participate in the EWEA program will be provided with mentorship through the Seedstars network as well as access to the Investment Readiness Program through the Seedstars Online Academy.
Enabler beneficiaries are understood to be entrepreneur support organizations 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 organizations will be given access to mentorship, workshops, and a capacity-building program through the Seedstars Online Academy.
The EWEA program 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. Interested WSMEs and enablers can sign up here before December 31: https://seedsta.rs/EWEA.