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.