There is unequivocal evidence that women-owned businesses start with lower levels of overall capitalization, lower ratios of debt finance, and are much less likely to use private equity or venture capital. The level of start-up capitalization used by women-owned businesses is, on average, only one third of that used by male-owned businesses (ibid Carter & Shaw 2006). In Africa, where capital for startups is already scarce, these issues are compounded by gender roles and business environments that are heavily male-oriented. To put it frankly, in Africa, the most-lucrative deals are struck in social spaces like bars and members-only clubs, places where any woman worth her salt has no business being.
She Leads Africa’s Entrepreneur Showcase is a platform that introduces the continent’s most-promising female entrepreneurs to investors, accelerators, and mentors looking to invest in the next generation of African talent. The platform especially encourages women in the diaspora to get involved if their business focuses on the African continent.
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Forbes magazine has proclaimed 2014 the year of the women-led startup, and it seems that female entrepreneurs in Africa will be able to ride the momentum.
South Africa is the only country on the continent to make it close to the top 10 of the GEDI Gender Index, which indicates room for improvement in the enabling environment for women to start out on their own. Nigeria was the next sub-Saharan African country to make the list, which ranked each country according to its entrepreneurial environment, ecosystem, and aspirations.
She Leads Africa has keyed in on an important trend and has done so by pairing the expertise of young professionals from diverse backgrounds with established CEOs to create an opportunity for women-founded businesses to succeed on the continent.
The application period continues through July 30, 2014. On September 20th, the top 10 finalists will pitch their businesses in front of a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and financiers who understand what it takes to build a successful business in Africa. The winner among the finalists will walk away with $10,000 USD in cash to finance their venture, 2nd place takes home $5,000 USD as well as other non-financial prizes.
To register as an attendee or enter your pitch, check out www.sheleadsafrica.org.
Face2face Africa invites you to join us for our annual Pan-African Weekend July 25-27 in NYC, honoring Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Alek Wek, Femi Kuti, Masai Ujiri, Bethlehem Alemu, and Dr. Oheneba Bochie-Adjei. Click here for more details and register to attend.