IFC announces 100 women startups to receive growth support through ‘She Wins Africa’

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IFC announces 100 women startups to receive growth support through 'She Wins Africa'

IFC has today announced the names of 100 women-led startup owners selected to participate in the She Wins Africa programme. This is an IFC-led initiative that aims to accelerate access to capital for women-led startups across sub-Saharan Africa.

According to a statement shared with Technect, the She Wins Africa initiative is a part of IFC’s broader commitment to promote gender equality and empower women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

The selected women will participate in comprehensive interventions that will strengthen their companies’ investment readiness, include advice and mentorship, and provide access to potential investors, industry leaders, and peers through matchmaking and pitching opportunities across Africa.

Read also: Google launches 1st dedicated Startups Accelerator for women founders in Africa

Today’s announcement follows the launch of the programme at the Africa CEO Forum in Côte D’Ivoire in 2023. She Wins Africa is the second initiative of its kind, following IFC’s She Wins Arabia program which has supported 170 women entrepreneurs and more than 35 Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) in North Africa and the Middle East since 2021.

IFC announces 100 women startups to receive growth support through 'She Wins Africa'

“IFC’s She Wins Africa empowers women entrepreneurs through coaching, training, and financing, accelerating their growth and investment readiness throughout sub-Saharan Africa, said Nathalie Akon Gabala, Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion at IFC.

“It’s time for investors to step up and fund women. A strong entrepreneurship ecosystem benefits us all”, she added.

The 100 participants announced today were drawn from almost 3,000 applicants comprised of women entrepreneurs across Africa in sectors ranging from ag-tech, climate-tech, e-commerce, ed-tech, health-tech, fintech etc. 

In addition to the investment-readiness program for the 100 selected participants, She Wins Africa will roll out other initiatives. These include: 

  • a boot camp to help lead 200 pre-seed women-led startups into the acceleration phase,
  • an initiative to open up acceleration support for an additional 200 women-led startups in areas where such support is not easily available; and
  • a program to create a coalition of funds, venture capital firms and gender-lens investors to improve access to finance for women and their businesses across Africa.
Why is IFC focusing on women?

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs globally, with approximately 26% of female adults involved in entrepreneurial activity. However, according to a 2021 World Bank report, African women founders receive only about three per cent of start-up finance.

Another “Women and Online Learning in Emerging Markets” report released by IFC 4 months ago indicated that one in three Nigerian women surveyed reported positive career or business outcomes after taking online courses, including finding a new job, setting up a business, or improving job performance.

IFC announces 100 women startups to receive growth support through 'She Wins Africa'

In Nigeria, men make up the majority of online learners. However, over the past five years, the proportion of female learners has grown from 26% in 2017 to 32% in 2022. Women were twice as likely as men to cite family and childcare obligations as their motivation to learn online. 27% of women were motivated by the pandemic, and 20% by personal preferences.

Read: Africa Now Has 700,000 Professional Software Developers, Only 21% are Women- Google/IFC Report

As described by Kalim M. Shah, Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, IFC is “committed to fostering increased female participation in the private sector”. According to her, the organisation aims to empower women entrepreneurs, not only to create successful businesses but also to drive social change and economic growth.

Recall that it unveiled 15 female-led Nigerian tech startups selected to participate in the first cohort of an Investment Readiness Accelerator programme, Female Founders Growth Programme in October last year.

The Female Founders Growth Programme is designed for female tech founders who have successfully developed a Minimum Viable Product and gained traction, offering solutions to critical challenges within a sector with significant growth potential in the local socio-economic context.

The selected startups participated in a 7-week Investment readiness programme designed to enhance their business models and refine fundraising strategies.


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