Four women entrepreneurs have been declared winners of the SheTrades Investment Challenge. The announcement was made following an intense pitching contest in front of a panel of investment experts at SheTrades Global, the annual event of the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades initiative.
The four companies – Solution Oasis (Ghana), Brogibro Safaris and Event Management (Kenya), Annona (Kenya and USA), and Suntri Centre (Ukraine) were declared winners of the SheTrades Investment Challenge having convinced the four judges that their ideas deserved investment and support for their business ideas.
‘What we saw here today were four amazing women entrepreneurs presenting four amazing business ideas. These four companies will go on to develop their ideas, in collaboration with new partners,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. ‘It shows that in addition to talking and doing business ITC’s SheTrades is also a platform to attract new investment.’
The panel of judges were made up of May Ali Babiker Elthahir (Islamic Development Bank), Guido Boysen (Grofin), Douglas Cochrane (Balloon Ventures), and Betty Yan Lie (Maersk).
Ashley King-Bischof of Annona, based in Kenya and the USA, peaked the interest of Maersk in her company’s idea for a mobile and web-based platform that exporters can use to manage their farmers, importers can use to organize their supply chains, and farmers can use to keep records and obtain services for their farm.
Francesca Brenda Opuku of Solution Oasis from Ghana won support from Grofin for her pitch to scale up the company’s manufacturing of premium skincare products from ethically sourced African butters, oils and herbs, which would help grow its exports.
Two investors – Grofin and Balloon Venture – committed to support Ruth Owino of Brogibro Safaris and Event Management from Kenya to expand her business through pro-bono advisory services with a view to improve the company’s prospects of gaining access to finance.
Nadiia Vasylieva of Suntri Centre from Ukraine also secured interest from Maersk in her idea to promote trusted and transparent interconnectivity across businesses and people using the power of blockchain and smart contracts.
This year’s SheTrades Global took place in Liverpool as part of the International Business Festival and more than 650 business-to-business meetings were held between women entrepreneurs and buyers and investors during the three-day event, leading to US$ 7.5 million worth of business leads, so far.
SheTrades Global 2018 attracted more than 450 women entrepreneurs and business-owners from 56 countries, who had business meetings with representatives of companies from a range of countries, including Argentina, China Italy, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
The three-day event also featured a series of inspirational sessions covering issues such financing, attracting investors, contract negotiations and how to use data in decision-making.
On the final day of the event, UPS, the international logistics company, handed over a cheque providing the SheTrades initiative with funding and partnership support to step up capacity building and training for women entrepreneurs, and boost women-led exports. ITC also signed an agreement with Maersk, the company most known for container shipping, to scale up the two organisation’s collaboration to empower women economically.
Previous editions of SheTrades Global have been held in Istanbul, Turkey (2018 and 2011), Sao Paulo, Brazil (2015), Kigali, Rwanda (2014), Mexico City, Mexico (2012), and Chongqing, China (2010).