47 women-led startups from Nigeria were among 100 selected for the Women Entrepreneurship for Africa (WE4A) program. This was announced by the organisers in a press statement seen by this reporter.
Other women-led startups are from countries like Uganda, Ghana, Madagascar, Cameroon, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, etc.
The 100 selected startups operate in different sectors such as agriculture, education and training, health, marketplace, eco-friendly, consumer products and services. Some Nigerian startups selected for the program include eHealth360, M’Care app, EduClick, Learntor, Gamp, Ekanje, Farm on wheels, Little Brown Box by Bebe, Nafarm Foods, etc.
Women in Africa today lack access to capital compared to men. Women received less than 15% of the total funding into startups on the continent for 2021. According to Briter Bridges report that states that only 3% of capital invested in African startups between 2013 and 2021 went to female owed startups.
Some reasons for this low amount of investments range from cultural issues to the fact that venture capitalists think men are better risk takers and more likely to succeed. This gap adversely affects women, their families, and their communities. It also means that investors overlook many potentially lucrative ventures. At 27%, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of women-owned businesses in the world.
Programs such as the Women Entrepreneurship for Africa (WE4A) are looking to bridge the finance gap by providing women with training and grants to scale up their businesses. WEA4 is an initiative that focuses on empowering underserved communities in Sub-Saharan Africa comprising women, youth, and the informal sector.
WE4A aims to provide female-led startups with enhanced business capacities, access to funding, market opportunities, knowledge enhancement, and technical training. Through the program, it is estimated that over 147 net new jobs will be created and an estimated 600 jobs will be secured over the course of the program.
Women Entrepreneurship for Africa (WE4A) program
Selected startups of the WEA4 initiative will enjoy three months of personalized support by an entrepreneur-in-residence that will provide hands-on support in the growth of each startup. They will also have access to investment readiness training presented by topic experts, one on one mentorship, local ecosystem integration and network connections.
Being accepted to the program automatically qualifies the startups for the grant of $10,000. However, there is a special growth program for 15 startups that are deemed to have high growth potential. Participants of the growth program, which goes on for another 3 months, are eligible for further grants of up to $50,000, depending on their capital needs.
The virtual Demo Day is the event where startups pitch their ideas to stakeholders, partners, mentors, donors and international investors. A marketing campaign will also be included to increase visibility.
The acceleration and program component of WE4A is run by the Swiss Association for Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets (SAFEEM), a member of the Seedstars Group. The high-impact acceleration program is supported by the European Union, Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development,Tony Elumelu Foundation and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
For more information about the WE4A program and to access the full list of selected startups participating in the acceleration program’s cohort, visit the website here.
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