Category: News & Publications

News & PublicationsPress Release

Empower Your Business Growth: Apply for Growth4Her Cohort 3 – Transforming Women-led SMEs in Nigeria and Cameroon!

Are you a woman-led SME in Nigeria or Cameroon ready to take your business to the next level? Growth4Her is back with its third cohort, offering an unrivalled opportunity to supercharge your business growth trajectory! Following the tremendous success of its previous cohorts, Growth4Her is inviting passionate and ambitious women entrepreneurs to join its third cohort. This program offers a unique blend of intensive capacity-building, psychosocial support, mentorship, and access to financing opportunities and markets. Seize this opportunity to transform your SME into a growth-powered business with Growth4Her’s proven support system. 

About Growth4Her 

Growth4Her is an investor readiness accelerator program co-created and implemented by Creative Space Startups, Sociocapital Impact Group, The Learning Gate, and ActivSpaces 

Growth4Her supports and empowers women entrepreneurs, providing them with the capacity and tools to transition from small to high-potential, fundable growth-stage businesses. The program equips beneficiaries with investment readiness skills, connects them directly to funders, and cultivates an ecosystem that supports their businesses. 

In 2021, the African Development Bank (AfDB) reported a $42 billion gender financing gap in Africa, a significant concern addressed by Growth4Her as an AFAWA Women Entrepreneurship Enabler. Funded by AfDB’s AFAWA initiative, over the next five (5) years, the program aims to empower 1,500 women entrepreneurs across 10 African cities, with a specific focus on Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs). 

What We Offer 

  • Capacity Building & Mentorship: Refine your skills with investor readiness training, market access strategies, and financial management techniques. Access to dedicated mentors and a network of empowered women entrepreneurs. 
  • Psychosocial and Policy Support: We advocate for policy reforms and work with communities to enable a culture of support for women entrepreneurs to perform better in their businesses. 
  • Access to Funding: Get investor-ready and connect with potential funders to secure the capital your business needs to thrive. 
  • Access to Market: Unlock new markets across Africa and beyond with our expert guidance and network. 
  • Media Exposure: Receive well-deserved media attention to amplify your brand and attract new customers. 

Eligibility Criteria 

  • For a company to be eligible as a women-owned business, it should meet at least one of the following criteria: 
    • The business must be 51% owned by a woman.  
    • The business must be at least 20% owned by a woman and have a woman serving as a C-Level Executive (CEO, COO, CTO, CFO, etc).  
    • The business must have a board of directors, and at least 30% of the board should be women. 
  • The business should have between 5 and 300 employees and operate in Cameroon or Nigeria. 
  • The business should have annual sales between US$35,000 and US$15 million. 
  • The business should have assets worth between US$100,000 and US$15 million. 
  • The applicant can dedicate one week to an intense virtual/ physical boot camp. 
  • The applicant can dedicate 3 hours for mentorship engagement for a period of 8 weeks (about two months). 

 


Don’t miss this chance to join a movement of empowered women entrepreneurs! Apply today and unlock the full potential of your business! 

Application Deadline: 4 March 2024  

Apply Now: www.growth4her.org/apply  

 

For more information, visit www.growth4her.org/ or send us an email at [email protected]  

Tanzania – Community leadership makes markets safer for women traders in Tanzania
News & Publications

Optimising Business Policies for Sustainable Growth: The Impact on Women SMEs in Africa

Credit: UN Women/Daniel Donald

We often hear that businesses are one lousy government policy away from closing shops, and this is a common scenario in many African countries. Governments sometimes create and enforce policies that are highly detrimental to the survival of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). One of the main reasons for this is the lack of appropriate consultation with forums, cooperatives, and associations that represent these SMEs. As a result, the government often lacks thorough insights into the challenges faced by SMEs and how to address them.

Nevertheless, SMEs in Africa continue to exist and strive despite the harsh impact of business policies and other unique challenges. From navigating bureaucratic hurdles to limited access to resources, African SMEs face numerous obstacles on their path to growth. Public policies play a crucial role in shaping the entrepreneurial dynamics of a country or region. In different time periods, African states have introduced policies that have had both positive and negative consequences. These policies can either encourage entrepreneurship and establish an institutional framework that supports it, or have the opposite effect.

We see one such pivotal government policy in Nigeria with the recent removal of fuel subsidies. While this policy shift aimed to reduce government expenditure and redirect resources to critical sectors, it has had unintended consequences on women-owned SMEs. There are concerns that it will lead to a sharp increase in transportation costs, affecting the entire supply chain. This burden disproportionately affects women entrepreneurs who operate SMEs, who often rely on transportation to distribute their goods and services. Due to the higher transportation costs, these SMEs will experience squeezed profit margins, reduced competitiveness, and limited resources to invest in growth initiatives. In light of this policy, Olutosin Olaseinde brought up an important question: 

And we have already witnessed businesses temporarily suspending all operations with many others having had to scale down or close up.

On the other part of the continent in East Africa, Kenya made efforts to formalise the informal sector, encouraging businesses to pay taxes and improving access to finance and additional support. To drive this, they created an enabling environment that removed common bottlenecks faced by SMEs when registering their businesses. In 2023, Kenya’s Business Registration Services (BRS) reduced the time and cost of registering a business from 12 days and $100 to 24 hours and $1. This policy significantly contributes to the growth of SMEs.

Navigating unfriendly public policies can be challenging for SMEs and may even seem impossible, to the point where closing down becomes a consideration. However, with strategic approaches, women-led SMEs can minimise the negative impact and find opportunities for growth. Here are some tips to help you navigate unfriendly public policies:

  • Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with policy changes that may affect your business. Stay updated through government announcements, industry publications, and engagement with business associations to understand the implications and adapt your strategies accordingly. Through our newsletters, Growth4Her will be keeping you updated; stay tuned!
  • Adapt and diversify: Be flexible and try different things by adjusting your business to fit the rules and regulations that are in place. If possible, try to find new markets or customers unaffected by the policies. You can also offer different products or services so that you’re not relying too much on just one area. This way, if one part of your business is affected by the policies, you have other areas that can still make money. Have multiple streams of income.
  • Seek exemptions and incentives: Research and identify any exemptions or incentives available within the existing policy framework. Some policies may have provisions or special programs that can provide relief or benefits for SMEs. Take advantage of these opportunities to minimise the negative impact of unfriendly policies.
  • Embrace innovation and technology: Leverage innovation and technological advancements to streamline operations, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. Embracing digital tools, automation, and process improvements can help SMEs navigate policy challenges more effectively and identify new growth opportunities. As an SME, do you need a physical shop when you can operate a website and active social media pages?
  • Advocate for change: Engage in advocacy efforts by joining industry associations and participating in policy discussions. Collaborate with other SMEs to amplify your collective voice and advocate for policy changes that support SME interests. Engaging with policymakers and providing feedback can help shape more favourable policies. For this, Growth4Her has Policy Conversation coming up that you should look out for and be part of.

Remember, while navigating unfriendly public policies can be challenging, it’s crucial to remain proactive, adaptive, and persistent. By employing these strategies and seeking opportunities within the constraints, SMEs can mitigate risks and continue to thrive in the face of challenging policy environments.

To our African policymakers and the general public, let’s also remember that SMEs are vital contributors to our economy, employing a significant portion of the population. The importance of SMEs in African states cannot be overemphasised. It’s time we start implementing policies that allow women entrepreneurs to grow, addressing funding, infrastructure, and gender-specific challenges. The key to unleashing the full potential of its SMEs and driving sustainable economic development for the benefit of all is for governments and stakeholders to work together to create an enabling environment that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and equitable growth.

istockphoto-1317783101-612×612
Press ReleaseNews & Publications

Growth4Her Cohort 2 Call for Applications for Women SMEs in Nigeria and Cameroon

Are you a woman in Cameroon or Nigeria? Do you want to push your Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to the next level? This cohort is for YOU!

Growth4Her is accepting applications for its second cohort. In the first cohort, women entrepreneurs from Nigeria and Cameroon went through an intensive capacity-building and psychosocial support system with lots of testimonials of how the program has benefitted them.

As a Growth4Her participant, you’ll receive top-notch investor readiness training, psychosocial support, mentorship, and access to financing opportunities and markets. The program will help you transform your SMEs into growth-powered businesses. What are you waiting for? Apply today and unleash your full entrepreneurial potential.

About Growth4Her

Growth4Her is an AFAWA-AFDB-funded project created by Creative Space Startups in partnership with Sociocapital Impact Group, The Learning Gate and WETECH. Growth4Her is a women’s support program which provides women entrepreneurs with the capacity and tools which enables them to transition from small to high potential fundable growth stage businesses.

In 2021, African Development Bank (AfDB) reported that there is a $42b gender financing gap in Africa. Growth4Her is actively eliminating the Gender Financing Gap in Africa through the provision of adequate skills, knowledge, access to markets, access to finance, advocating for better policies and an adequate representation for women-owned Small and Medium Size Enterprises.

Over the next five (5) years, this program aims to empower 1500 women entrepreneurs across 10 African cities with a particular interest in Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs). The program offers beneficiaries investment readiness skills, links them directly to funders, and fosters an ecosystem that supports WSMEs.

What will the program provide?

The Growth4Her program will provide beneficiaries with:

  • Access to Market—we provide you with market linkages across African cities.
  • Access to funding – we prepare you for investors and connect you with financial institutions.
  • Psychosocial and Policy Support—we advocate for policy reforms and work with communities to enable a culture of support for WSMEs.
  • Media Exposure—we provide adequate media representation.
  • Mentorship—we facilitate access to skilled and experienced mentors.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The organization should be at least 51% owned by a woman or, at minimum 20% owned by a woman and have at least a woman as CEO/COO (President/Vice President); and have at minimum 30% of its board of directors composed of women, provided there is a board.
  2. Loan size between US$5,000 and US$1 million (Loans must not be from traditional financial institutions, however, loans from other sources such as associations, cooperatives e.g. “tontine/njangi”  “esusu”, family loans may be considered).
  3. The organization should have between 5 and 300 employees.
  4. Sales between US$35,000 and US$15 million.
  5. Assets between US$100,000 and US$15 million annually.
  6. Can dedicate 1 week to an intense virtual/ physical Bootcamp.
  7. Can dedicate 3 hours for mentorship engagement for a period of 8 weeks.
  8. Must be a C-Level executive in the organization.

TO APPLY, CLICK HERE  

 

For more information, send us a mail at [email protected]

G4Her – Cohort 1
News & Publications

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Africa: Growth4Her is Breaking Barriers and Driving Innovation

In Africa, women entrepreneurs are breaking barriers and defying odds to create innovative businesses that are transforming their communities. And now, thanks to a ground-breaking initiative called Growth4Her, these women are getting the tools and support they need to take their businesses to the next level.

The program, which is run as a consortium, funded by AFAWA-AfDB, co-created and implemented by Creative Space Startups, Sociocapital Impact Group, The Learning Gate (TLG), and WETECH, provides women entrepreneurs in Africa with the capacity, tools, and psychosocial support they need to transition from small to high-potential fundable growth-stage businesses. The first cohort of the program, which kicked off in September 2022, featured 55 businesses in Nigeria and Cameroon, 14 of which have now completed the program.

Over the past five months, the cohort has benefited from intensive mentorship and psychosocial engagement, featuring weekly sessions with respected experts and business leaders. The program included detailed learning modules, one-week capacity-building training, eight weeks of intensive mentorship engagement, focus group discussions, inception scoping workshops, and mind modelling clinics. Participants also received a variety of group and one-on-one virtual sessions and training on investor readiness, enterprise sales, customer engagement tactics, and technical readiness.

The program’s impact has been tremendous, as evidenced by the incredible women who have led the charge in Africa’s agriculture and entrepreneurship industries. These women are revolutionizing the way sweet potato is processed and packaged, empowering women through hair care businesses, producing mouth-watering dried meat snacks, tackling hunger and poverty through organic mushroom cultivation and Black-Soldier Fly larvae farming, leading the way in waste management and renewable energy, providing safe and effective alternatives to chemical-based products, producing organic hair products that are gentle on both hair and the environment, opening up tech opportunities for girls and women, creating employment opportunities in agropastoral entrepreneurship, and leading the way in the fish farming sector.

 

 

The Growth4Her program is making a significant contribution to eliminating the $42 billion gender financing gap in Africa by providing women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises with the skills, knowledge, access to markets, access to finance, and advocacy for better policies and adequate representation. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, and Growth4Her is proud to be part of the success stories of these women, who are changing the face of entrepreneurship in Africa and inspiring the next generation of women to follow in their footsteps. “We came with expectations, you went even further. Thank you for such devotion. We’ll never forget this cohort!”, said Nancy Ongolo, one of the participants.

Over the next five years, the program aims to empower 1500 women entrepreneurs across 10 African cities, with a particular interest in Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs). The program offers beneficiaries investment readiness skills, links them directly to funders, and fosters an ecosystem that supports WSMEs.
As the first cohort of the Growth4Her program concludes, the businesses will continue to work closely with Growth4Her and partners, who will support the graduating cohort via media exposure, access to a network of investors, and continued business advisory. The next cohort is expected to launch in the second week of April and kick-start in May 2023. It’s an exciting time for women entrepreneurs in Africa, and Growth4Her is leading the way.

[GetPaidStock.com]-630a7457e86c5
News & Publications

Growth4Her Accelerator Programme for Women SMEs in Nigeria & Cameroon

Growth4Her is accepting applications for its first cohort. The cohort is open to women-owned and led Small and medium size enterprises in Cameroon and Nigeria. The Growth4Her program is open to women SMEs looking to transition their businesses to growth-powered businesses as the program offers investor readiness training, psychosocial support, mentorship, access to financing opportunities and access to markets. 

 

About Growth4Her

Growth4Her is an AFAWAAFDB funded project created by Creative Space Startups in partnership with Sociocapital Impact Group, The Learning Gate and WETECH. Growth4Her is a women’s support program which provides women entrepreneurs with the capacity and tools which enables them to transition from small to high potential fundable growth stage businesses.

In 2021, African Development Bank (AfDB) reported that there is a $42b gender financing gap in Africa. Growth4Her is actively eliminating the Gender Financing Gap in Africa through the provision of adequate skills, knowledge, access to markets, access to finance, advocating for better policies and an adequate representation for women-owned Small and Medium Size Enterprises.

Over the next five (5) years, this program aims to empower 1500 women entrepreneurs across 10 African cities with a particular interest in Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs). The program offers beneficiaries investment readiness skills, links them directly to funders, and fosters an ecosystem that supports WSMEs.

What will the program provide?

The Growth4Her program will provide beneficiaries with:

  • Access to Market—we provide you with market linkages across African cities.
  • Access to funding – we prepare you for investors and connect you with financial institutions.
  • Psychosocial and Policy Support—we advocate for policy reforms and work with communities to enable a culture of support for WSMEs.
  • Media Exposure—we provide adequate media representation.
  • Mentorship—we facilitate access to skilled and experienced mentors.

Eligibility

  1. Organization should be at least 51% owned by a woman or, at minimum 20% owned by a woman and have at least a woman as CEO/COO (President/Vice President); and have at minimum 30% of its board of directors composed of women, provided there is a board.
  2. Loan size between US$5,000 and US$1 million (Loans must not be from traditional financial institutions, however, loans from other sources such as associations, cooperatives e.g. “tontine/njangi”  “esusu”, family loans may be considered).
  3. Organization should have between 5 and 300 employees.
  4. Sales between US$35,000 and US$15 million annually.
  5. Assets between US$100,000 and US$15 million.
  6. Can dedicate 1 week to an intense virtual/ physical Bootcamp.
  7. Can dedicate 3 hours for mentorship engagement for a period of 8 weeks.
  8. Must be a C-Level executive in the organization.

TO APPLY, CLICK HERE.  

For more information, send us a mail at [email protected]

Young African female designer working in her workshop.
News & Publications

Women Entrepreneurs Have the Potential to Contribute $600 Billion to Africa’s GDP

Women entrepreneurs confront a $42 billion gender funding gap while owning 58% of Africa’s SMEs and contributing $300 billion to the continent’s GDP. If the gap is closed, their contribution can more than double.

In the streets of Douala, Onitsha, Dar es Salaam, Cape Town and across major African cities, it is very common to come across businesses owned and operated by women — they are a visible part of the economy. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), one in every four African women starts or manages her own business. Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest rate of female entrepreneurship, at 27% but they are mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with limited growth potential.

These businesses are spread throughout several sectors, offering a wide range of products and services. They contribute a bulk of their earnings (90%) to catering to the well-being of their families and communities. They also contribute $250 billion to $300 billion to African economic growth (13% of the continent’s GDP). The importance and contributions of female entrepreneurs to the African economy cannot be overstated.

Notwithstanding, one cannot help but wonder why Africa has a $42 billion gender finance gap, as revealed by AfDB in 2021. Globally, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates a $300 billion gender finance gap, with more than 70% of women-owned small and medium-sized businesses having insufficient or no access to financial services. Aside from business funding, WSMEs are the most financially excluded group in Africa, with just 37% of women having and owning bank accounts.

The gender finance gap goes beyond availability or affordability, but also WSMEs’ willingness and capacity to access financing options. An IMF research of 47 African nations found that women are more prone to opt-out of loan offers due to low perceived creditworthiness. 

While women-owned and women-led enterprises now benefit the African economy, there is still a lot more potential to be realized. According to a McKinsey report on the power of parity in Africa, bridging the gender financing gap could double the contribution of WSMEs to GDP by 2025. 

It is crucial that all stakeholders (government, banks, investors, development partners, etc.) offer the necessary support to promote and protect women entrepreneurs and address the challenges that prevent their businesses from succeeding. We can develop a gender-inclusive economy in Africa with the relevant laws and interventions, unleashing women entrepreneurs. This provides us with a chance to enhance economic growth while also lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Understanding these challenges, Creative Space Startups in partnership with  Sociocapital, The Learning Gate and WETECH with support funding from AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) designed Growth4Her an accelerator program targeted at building the capacity of women-led small and medium enterprises (WSMEs) to enable them to transition to high potential fundable growth stage businesses. 

For her first cohorts, Growth4Her is currently accepting applications from women entrepreneurs to develop their capacity, equipping them with the relevant resources to build sustainable and productive businesses. 

To apply click here.

image_editor_output_image-1703592652-1661439154528.jpg
News & Publications

Growth4Her, Bridging the Gender Financing Gap in Africa

Despite owning 58% of Africa’s SMEs, women face a $42 billion gender financing gap, impeding their ability to scale up, advance professionally as business leaders, and compete globally.

WOMEN ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE AFRICAN ECONOMY — According to a recent World Bank research, women entrepreneurs are an important and thriving source of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, women-owned businesses get lower monetary returns (profit or investment funding) compared to men-owned businesses owing to gender-specific restrictions. In recent times, there has been an increase in women-centric training programs, yet this hasn’t translated to an equivalent rise in financing. This imbalance implies women entrepreneurs may be overtrained, and underfunded. Therefore, it is critical that in supporting women entrepreneurs, we provide an enabling environment that ensures a balance of both capacity and resources relevant for growth.

During a closed virtual launch, Grace Oluchi, Cofounder and Executive Director of Creative Space Startups asked, “What if we all intentionally supported women entrepreneurs?”. This intentionality begins with Growth4Her, a women accelerator program created by Creative Space Startups in partnership with Sociocapital Impact Group, The Learning Gate and WETECH. G4Her seeks to bridge the gender financing gap in Africa by providing women entrepreneurs with the capacity and tools which enables them to transition from small to high potential fundable growth stage businesses.

During a closed virtual launch, Grace Oluchi, Cofounder and Executive Director of Creative Space Startups asked, “What if we all intentionally supported women entrepreneurs?”. This intentionality begins with Growth4Her, a women accelerator program created by Creative Space Startups in partnership with Sociocapital Impact Group, The Learning Gate and WETECH. G4Her seeks to bridge the gender financing gap in Africa by providing women entrepreneurs with the capacity and tools which enables them to transition from small to high potential fundable growth stage businesses.

The program offers a robust support system for women entrepreneurs; “The G4Her consortium brings the best of business and development, equipping beneficiaries with the perspective and tools to leverage the opportunity from a diverse investment cluster. Women-led enterprises must be adaptive to the African market’s rapid volatility and uncertainty. The G4Her program will deliver a balanced coaching and mentorship program, including psychosocial support required for them to survive and thrive”. Sharon Madaki, Executive Director, Sociocapital.

Over the next 5 years, this program aims to empower 1500 women entrepreneurs across 10 African cities with a particular interest in women-led Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs) in West and Central Africa. The program offers beneficiaries investment readiness skills, links them directly to funders, and fosters an ecosystem that supports Women’s SMEs.

“Investment readiness is a nursery bed prepared for investors to plant, water and nurture their seeds,” says Ajuma Ataguba, Principal Consultant for The Learning Gate. Our approach is to see women receive the skills, resources and direct access to funders and new markets. We guide them through interaction with funders to ensure higher success rates. The program’s four pillars include capacity building, public policy co-creation, psychosocial support and investment readiness training.

With support funding from AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa), Growth4Her will be piloted in Cameroon and Nigeria and looks forward to onboarding 30-50 women entrepreneurs for its first cohort. Through this sub-economic region collaboration, hopes are high as the program is expected to increase collaborations between neighbouring Cameroon and the Nigerian entrepreneurship ecosystem. Taking advantage of initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and other intra-African policies and programs to increase cross-border women collaboration and economic growth.

The program is being implemented in Nigeria by Creative Space Startups and in Cameroon by WETECH; speaking on the program’s goals, Elodie Nonga-Kenla, Founder of WETECH stated “We want to ensure that women in (Africa) Cameroon become more confident, heard, encouraged, and supported in their entrepreneurial journey. The program is a great opportunity for women entrepreneurs in the economic region to build their ability to scale on both a continental and global level”.

en_USEnglish