An acceleration programme aimed at supporting women in biosciences 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.
SANBio is a platform for shared biosciences research, development and innovation to address health and nutrition issues of Southern Africa and it is hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa.
The FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme has been 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.
“While there have been attempts at improving participation of women in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the representation of women in technology-led enterprises and in particular in leadership or managerial positions or as founders of businesses is very low in the SADC Region,” Dr Ereck Chakauya, SANBio Network Manager notes.
By providing opportunities to women entrepreneurs, the acceleration programme fits well into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) industrial strategy and SANBio’s objectives to address gender inequality in the region. The SADC industrial strategy encourages gender participation in the industrialisation process, notably by improved access to finance, skills development and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) support programmes, and livelihood skills of women.
“This programme creates a platform for peer learning and will empower women to lead in health and nutrition through science and technology. In doing so, we envision that the women involved will inspire others to realise the business potential in science,” remarks BioFISA II Programme Manager, Zvikomborero Tangawamira.
The top performers will have the opportunity to meet investors, business experts and potential mentors and visit Cape Town to participate at the 2017 SA Innovation Summit. The best performer will receive a grant of R250 000 to move the business forward and a trip to attend Europe’s leading start-up event Slush 2017 in Finland, where international opportunities await. Women from SANBio member countries - Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are encouraged to enter the competition.
More information on the competition can be found here.