Invest2Impact Competition Opens Up Opportunities For Women In East Africa To Scale Up Their Businesses

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For the past decade, women-owned firms have been on the rise with women entrepreneurs taking the lead in the world of business. From the likes of Wandia Gichuru who owns Vivo Africa to the founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries, Tabitha Karanja. All these successful businesswomen can also attest that as an entrepreneur, you are bound to encounter different challenges in your journey.

Read on the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs in Kenya.

For instance, let’s start with the unnerving difficult process of selling your idea, that is pitching. For a founder who doesn’t need an investor to help them kick start their business, the dynamics might be different. However, to an entrepreneur who’s in need of funding to get their business off the ground, every pitching opportunity is a do or die situation. Raising capital is even more difficult for women-owned firms.

Research indicates that less than 3% of venture capital-funded companies have female CEOs. Why? Because as Bonnie Crater, the CEO of Full Circle Insight explains, venture capitalists tend to invest in businesses ran by people of their own tribe. Not in terms of ethnicity, but previous universities and shared experiences.

Invest2Impact aims to level the playing field. Invest2Impact is a competition sponsored by leading development finance institutions (DFIs) including; FinDevCanada, Commonwealth Development Corporation Group (CDC) of the UK, Proparco of France and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the United States along with the Mastercard Foundation. The purpose of the competition is to provide access to funding so as to develop women-led initiatives in East Africa.

Graca Machel speaks at the Invest2Impact launch. The female segment cannot be generalized as ‘niche’ or ‘predictable.’ Picture courtesy: Invest2Impact

How’s the 2xInvest2Impact challenge competition different from other business competitions?

  • Instead of concentrating on women-focused entrepreneurial forums and initiatives, the Invest2Impact will be targeting women-owned businesses at the growth stage, facing barriers in accessing investment capital.
  • 2X Invest2Impact will provide women-owned businesses with mentorships, business development services, visibility and the opportunity for funding.
  • 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. A total of 100 women participants will be chosen to pursue one of the four “tracks”.
  • 25 finalists will compete for cash prizes of Ksh.8,749,900.

Speaking at the launch, international advocate for Women’s and Children’s right H.E. Graca Machel, emphasized that there’s a need for financial institutions and the government to empower women. With the saying, empower a woman and the community will thrive she outlined that increasing women’s involvement leads to improved financial management and more sustainable communities.

“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. The female segment cannot be generalized as ‘niche’ or ‘predictable.’ It is diverse and has particular needs that require our attention.” Affirmed H.E. Graca Machel.

She also noted that the decision to focus on women entrepreneurs was made because of the significant contribution women-owned enterprises make to their economies. “ If allowed to achieve their full growth potential, they can contribute to employment growth, enhanced regional trade, and spur more activity amongst budding entrepreneurs.” She added.

The current project Invest2Impact is focused is on East Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The aim of the competition is to pilot an investment prospecting model that could be replicated in other regions.

The Invest2Impact competition will be open to the majority of women-owned businesses, with detailed entry criteria on the competition website.

Competition categories include;

  • 2Xcelerate –  This category is designed for revenue-positive businesses seeking sizeable investment, beginning at $3m to
    scale. The competition is opened to women-led business – in participating countries – aligned or with a focus on proposed SDGs.
  • 2xcapital – This category is focussed on Small-Medium Enterprises seeking growth funding access and support. It is designed for smaller businesses suitable for funding under $3m.
  • 2Xcrowd – is aimed at providing support for global crowdfunding campaigns. 25 social enterprise and innovation-focused businesses will receive tailored support and mentorship to help establish their respective crowdfunding platform. The program will include crowdfunding strategy development, platform fees and ongoing support to achieve an agreed funding target.
  • 2Xcatalyse – is meant to facilitate networking and attendance at major industry events. 25 women entrepreneurs will be selected to attend a major international expo or event in their respective sector. Sponsored travel, attendance fees and promotional materials will be provided. The goal is to help women in the health, technology, agriculture and tourism sectors build their client base and making meaningful connections.

The participating members of these four streams will make up the founders of 2Xconnect. This will be an online community dedicated to Africa’s women entrepreneurs. It is designed to support collaboration, leadership, and key business skills. As more participants join, it will be a place to
share, support, learn and celebrate the power of East African women business leaders who are positively impacting their communities, countries, continents and the world.

Key dates;

Entries for all tracks opened on 11th/07/2019 and will close on 9th/09/2019.

2xcelerate finalists will be announced on 10th/10/2019

2xcelerate winners awards 13th/11/2019

All other 2x programme participants announced 13th/11/2019

This is a new opportunity for women entrepreneurs seeking to make a positive impact on local economies and are strong candidates for external investments.

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