One of the largest communities of innovation enablers, AfriLabs, has announced that through its RevUp women programme it would be supporting 50,000 African women through financing, mentorship, business training, and a grant of up to $100 million.
Speaking at the launch of RevUp women programme in Lagos, the Executive Director, AfriLabs, Anna Ekeledo, noted that the programme would kick off with 500 African women and fund 10 businesses with $10,000 grants to support their businesses.
“Our business strategy is supporting the women businesses and what we want to do is that for the initial pilot, we want to train up to 500 women and fund up to 10 businesses with $10,000 grant but the long term three years goal is across Africa, to be able to train through our hub network up to 50,000 women who will eventually create over 100,000 jobs and funding women businesses with up to $10 million and unlock additional funding from private capital of up to $100 million into the women. businesses and the strategy is to work with innovation hub as centre that support businesses to provide the training and mentorship for the women,” she said.
When asked why the women are the sole beneficiary of the initiative, she said research conducted had shown a very small per cent benefited from the startup financing last year.
She said: “AfriLab is a network of innovation and technology hub across 52 African countries. We have been operating for 12 years and over the years we have supported hundreds of thousands of innovators through our innovation hub network. Women are doing well especially in the tech space. We have seen the challenges which one is access to funding. We all know the tradition of collateral for finance which some women don’t have. We notice that specifically last year, women only got four per cent of the finance that went into startups. So, we saw the need to support women through financing, mentorship, business training and other opportunities as well.
“For the business training, at the end of the day we will be building the capacity of individuals, improving their skills in terms of running a business successfully. Another thing is providing a women network. What we have realized through pure research, is that the best mentors for women are also women entrepreneurs who have threaded that part to build successful businesses because they understand the challenges that women face. For accessing financing, we planned to fund women businesses and through a program of ours to unlock additional private capital from private investors into the businesses we are going to support.”