Graca Machel launches initiative to bolster women entrepreneurs in East Africa
Leading development finance institutions(DFIs) including FinDevCanada, Commonwealth Development Corporation Group (CDC) of the United Kingdom, Proparco of France and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the United States along with the Mastercard Foundation, officially launched the 2X Invest2Impact – Business Competition today. The purpose of the competition is to provide access to funding to help develop women-led initiatives in East Africa. This major new opportunity will support women entrepreneurs seeking to make a positive impact on local economies and are strong candidates for external investment.
While there are many other business competitions concentrated on the African continent, as well as women-focused entrepreneurial forums, programs, and initiatives, 2XInvest2Impact will stand out by pinpointing women-owned businesses at the growth stage, poised for investment capital.2XInvest2Impact will provide them with mentorships, business development services, visibility and the opportunity for funding.
The current project focus is on East Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. A total of 100 women participants will be chosen to pursue one of four “tracks”. The competition will be open to the majority of women-owned businesses, with detailed entry criteria on the competition website.
Speaking at the launch, H.E. GracaMachel, called on financial institutions and Governments to empower women. “Empower a Woman and a whole Community will thrive, empowering women benefits everyone and is essential for communities to thrive. Research shows that increasing women’s involvement leads to improved financial management and more sustainable, thriving communities.
She noted that the decision to focus on women entrepreneurs was made because of the significant contribution that they make to their economies. Adding that, these enterprises, if allowed to achieve their full growth potential, can contribute to employment growth, enhanced regional trade, and spur more activity amongst budding entrepreneurs.
“Through our numerous engagements with women across the continent at the GraçaMachel Trust, we have witnessed the rise of African women who are not content running businesses for subsistence purposes only. Some are venturing into sectors that are traditionally male-dominated where their numbers are still small; some are bent on improving their technical knowledge and capacity to tackle even greater challenges impacting the business landscape; and some are engaging in regional trade to maximize their growth potential. The female segment cannot be generalized as ‘niche’ or ‘predictable.’ It is diverse and as this report confirms, has particular needs that require our attention,” Affirmed H.E. GracaMachel.
The competition will bring value to women business owners through four tracks: 2Xcelerate, for women-led business owners, 2Xcapital for SMEs, 2Xcrowd for crowdfunding campaigns and 2Xcatalyze for network building.