The alliance of Hivos and SANBio aims to achieve a Southern Africa support network for female entrepreneurs by supporting local incubators and providing young entrepreneurial women with opportunities and tools to start and/or scale their own businesses.
Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Women’s underrepresentation in formal entrepreneurial activities has negative consequences for women and for Africa’s overall development. The lack of female scientists and techies means major untapped potential for national economies and future employment needs. Without access to, understanding of and participation in science and technology, women are at greater risk of being left behind in a rapidly changing global society. And society is at great risk of missing out on potential agents of change and leaders.
FemBioBiz addresses this with a program to support, connect and inspire women entrepreneurs. It targets women who already run a company, as well as students with exciting ideas involving agri-food, health, (bio)waste, natural beauty products or nutrition. For this to work, a strong local infrastructure for entrepreneurship and private sector development is needed. Local Business Development Service providers and collaborative spaces are effective in facilitating innovative, strategic partnerships between youth organizations, businesses, investors, civil society and women’s organizations. The program therefore brings them together in a support network that connects local coordinators/incubators to boost FemBioBiz’s impact on female entrepreneurship.
Each year, after an online selection procedure, FemBioBiz holds two main competitions in its countries of operation. Participants receive training in pitching and attend bootcamps. The winners of a regional pitching finale receive a prize and the exposure they need to put a female face on African businesses benefiting the bio-science sector.
Results so far
In Season 1 (2017), FemBioBiz incubated 101 women-led businesses, and in Season 2 (2018), that rose to 150. In the past years, over 650 businesses have applied for the national training programs. Exceptional companies have received additional exposure through collaboration with the African Innovation Summit (ASAIF) and the international entrepreneurship event Slush in Finland. For 2019, we expect another 150 exceptional companies to join the program.
Country coordinators include: Botswana Innovation Hub (Botswana), mHub (Malawi), DEV Mozambique (Mozambique), NCRST (Namibia), NISTI (Seychelles & Mauritius), AWIEF (South Africa), WeCreate (Zambia), NBA (Zimbabwe), SANBio (program coordination).
Period and budget
2017 – 2019, March – October (annually), € 500,000 per year