Former South African First Lady Graca Machel has 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 said.
Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of a platform to support women-led initiatives in East Africa, 2X Invest2Impact – Business Competition, 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.
The competition has been initiated by 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.
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.
“Through our numerous engagements with women across the continent at the Graça Machel 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 Graca Machel.
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 goals of 2X Invest2Impact are to directly reach women-owned businesses that may otherwise face barriers in accessing investment capital; contribute to the community of women business owners and leaders in the region; and gather and share learnings on women in business and gender-lens investing.
It will also increase visibility and momentum for gender-lens investing; and pilot an investment prospecting model that could be replicated in other regions.
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.
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.