Seedstars launches a program for women-led startups and organizations that support women entrepreneurs in Africa
December 1, 2022 – Seedstars’s Enhancing Women Entrepreneurship in Africa (EWEA) program is calling for women-led small to medium enterprises (WSMEs) as well as community enablers and entrepreneurship support programs in Africa to apply for its mentorship, skills capacity-building workshop series. Interested WSMEs and enablers can sign up here before December 31: https://seedsta.rs/EWEA.
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.
Over the years, many promising entrepreneurship support programs such as incubators, accelerators, university-based innovation hubs, maker spaces, technology parks, and co-working spaces across the continent have opened their doors to help support more women-led businesses.
However, these enablers are often limited in the support they are able to provide WSMEs 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 WSMEs 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 program 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 program 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.
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.
“They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.” – Mexican proverb
Seedstars is a Swiss-based private company with a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. The group’s activities cover over 90 emerging ecosystems through a variety of initiatives such as the FTxSDG Challenge, previously known as the Seedstars World Competition, which is the largest entrepreneurship competition in emerging markets; Seedstars Programs that are designed to support entrepreneurs in varying stages of growth via training, education, mentoring, and access to resources; Seedstars 01, a talent incubator providing digital skills and startup-based immersive education for the next generation of changemakers; Seedspace, physical coworking spaces and hubs located in 15 countries; and Seedstars International, a global venture capital fund for seed stage startups. For more information, visit www.seedstars.com.
Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) is a pan-African initiative of the African Development Bank, which aims to reduce the estimated $42 billion financing gap that affects women entrepreneurs in Africa. AFAWA offers a multi-pronged approach to address the constraints women entrepreneurs face in Africa.
GrowthAfrica is a leading Pan-African accelerator and entrepreneur support organisation (ESO). We scale and support ambitious and impactful entrepreneurs leading growth startups, scalable ventures and expanding SMEs. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Kenya, GrowthAfrica is a leading African impact accelerator and entrepreneur support organisation. Our quest is to develop the continent’s promising ventures and impact enterprises into prosperous members of our societies, creating much-needed job opportunities, economic wealth, and social transformation. We drive investment- and market readiness through cohort-based programmes and tailored support services to increase the rate and scope of success for African entrepreneurs. Since 2002 GrowthAfrica has supported over 1,800 businesses flourish, and run 34 flagship acceleration programmes (+6 currently ongoing) across 6 countries where we have offices and full-time teams.