IFC, Seedstars Announce Top 100 Women-led Startups in SheWins Africa Initiative

February 27, 2024
SheWins Africa Initiative

By Adedapo Adesanya

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has selected 100 women-led startup owners to participate in the She Wins Africa program, an IFC-led initiative that aims to accelerate access to capital for women-led startups across sub-Saharan Africa.

The selected women will participate in comprehensive interventions that will strengthen their companies’ investment readiness, include advice and mentorship, and provide access to potential investors, industry leaders, and peers through matchmaking and pitching opportunities across Africa.

The initiative is a part of IFC’s broader commitment to promote gender equality and empower women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

The 100 participants announced today were drawn from almost 3,000 applicants comprised of women entrepreneurs across Africa in sectors ranging from ag-tech, climate-tech, e-commerce, ed-tech, health-tech and intech etc.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs globally, with approximately 26 per cent of female adults involved in entrepreneurial activity. However, according to a 2021 World Bank report, women founders in Africa receive only about three per cent of start-up finance.

This new initiative aims to close this app and in addition to the investment-readiness programme for the 100 selected participants, She Wins Africa will roll out other initiatives, including: a bootcamp to help lead 200 pre-seed women-led startups into acceleration phase, an initiative to open up acceleration support for an additional 200 women-led startups in areas where such support is not easily available; and a programme to create a coalition of funds, venture capital firms and gender-lens investors to improve access to finance for women and their businesses across Africa.

Speaking in this, Mrs Nathalie Akon Gabala, Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion at IFC said, “IFC’s She Wins Africa empowers women entrepreneurs through coaching, training, and financing, accelerating their growth and investment readiness throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

“It’s time for investors to step up and fund women. A strong entrepreneurship ecosystem benefits us all.”

The announcement follows the launch of the She Wins Africa program at the Africa CEO Forum in Côte D’Ivoire in 2023.

She Wins Africa is the second initiative of its kind, following IFC’s She Wins Arabia program which has supported 170 women entrepreneurs and more than 35 Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) in North Africa and the Middle East since 2021.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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