The Tshwane University of Technology’s Prof Keolebogile Shirley Motaung, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Science as well as Tissue Engineering and a regenerative medicine expert, won the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme Grand Prize of R250 000 and a trip to Slush 2017 in Finland to upscale her business and refine her ideas.
The FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme was created to develop leadership, technological and business skills in female-owned businesses in the SADC region to support deal-making and business acceleration in the biosciences arena.
The acceleration programme was launched on 21 February 2017 during the SANBio Annual Event 2017, by the NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) with support from the BioFISA II programme (a Finnish-Southern African Partnership Programme to strengthen the NEPAD SANBio Network). SANBio is a platform for shared biosciences research, development and innovation to address health and nutrition issues of Southern Africa, and is hosted by the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research).
Women business leaders across Southern Africa were called to participate and pitch their businesses. Over a period of six weeks, over 150 applications were received from nine countries in SADC. The first phase of the programme was carried out between May and June in six successive workshops that were held in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa. Participants were taught the finer elements of pitching and introduced to the Business Model Canvas. Participants from the following countries responded to the call: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia and Swaziland.
Prof Motaung was one of the 15 overall finalists. The finalists completed an intensive entrepreneurial boot camp in Pretoria late in July in preparation for the grand finale. They were then invited to pitch their business plans and meet investors and business experts during the third phase of the competition - the South African Innovation Summit in Cape Town on 5-6 September 2017.
Prof Motaung’s pitch on her company Global Health Biotech impressed the panel of judges and FemBioBiz trainers and secured her the number one spot. Her company focuses on products for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine from medicinal plants: “Currently, there are no such products on the market for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” she says.
“I am excited about the win and hope that this will give me an opportunity to upscale and benchmark my business plan at an international level in Finland. The entrepreneurial boot camp we attended in Pretoria has boosted my understanding of different types of pitches; the business canvas model, how to write a business plan; and how to become an entrepreneur,” Prof Motaung concludes.
The competition was tough and the final selection not easy. The 2nd and 3rd prizes, R150 000 and R100 000 respectively, went to Mrs Stella Gonye of Chengie Advanced Defluoridation Technologies (Zimbabwe) and Mrs Nkata Seleka of Sleek Foods Pty Ltd (Botswana). The 4th runner up was Ms Sandra Mwiihangele with her company Kiyomisandz® Beauty Products (Namibia). All three were also invited to participate in the trip to Finland.
The trip to Finland to attend Europe’s leading start-up event Slush 2017 will take place from 27 November to 5 December 2017.
The image album for the event can be found here.