FemBioBiz offers female entrepreneurs a chance to learn and grow their businesses

FemBioBiz Season 1 Winners

The NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) is calling on female bio-entrepreneurs from the SADC region to submit their applications for the second season of the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme. The first season of the programme boosted a number of female-led enterprises in the bioinnovation sector through skills development and funding.

The NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio), with support from BioFISA II, launched the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme in February 2017 to develop leadership, technological, and business skills in female-owned bioscience and biotechnology businesses. SANBio believes that giving female entrepreneurs in the biosciences arena a boost will make a significant impact in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Through a competitive process, female entrepreneurs across Southern Africa are again called to participate in the programme which will enable them to understand and refine their businesses with opportunities to access further funding.

“This programme creates a platform for peer learning and will empower women to lead in health and nutrition through science and technology,” says BioFISA II Programme Manager Zvikomborero Tangawamira.

The second season of FemBioBiz will be implemented in eight countries, in collaboration with partner organisations in those countries. The collaborating partner organisations are Botswana Innovation Hub (Botswana), mHUB (Malawi), DEV Mozambique (Mozambique), NCRST (Namibia), The Guy Morel Institute (Seychelles), AWIEF (South Africa), WECREATE (Zambia), and National Biotechnology Authority (Zimbabwe). The prizes are valued at approximately R2.5 million, including incubation support and a chance to attend Europe’s leading annual start-up event Slush.

“The FemBioBiz programme has been a huge game changer to my company and the way I do business. The world class training sessions by seasoned trainers and top business people has been invaluable and has instilled great confidence in me as a female entrepreneur. It has demystified a lot of business concepts and uncluttered my business plan making it succinct and implementable. There is no platform too high for me to stand and make a pitch, no office too high for me to knock and pitch. I am now definitely & adequately equipped to take on the world and take my business to new heights, thanks to FemBioBiz. Coming third in last year’s competition was surely the icing on the cake and a huge endorsement for my company,” says Nkata Seleka, Sleek Foods (Pty) Ltd, Botswana. After her participation, she has already attracted interest from investors.

In the first season in 2017, more than 156 applications were received from nine countries in the SADC region over a period of six weeks. The first phase of the programme was implemented between 25 May and 28 June in workshops across southern Africa. Once initial training and selection was completed, 15 finalists attended an intensive entrepreneurial boot camp in Pretoria from 24-28 July. The final round of the pitching competition was held on 6 September 2017 in Cape Town at the 2017 SA Innovation Summit, where all 15 entrepreneurs were invited to pitch their businesses and meet investors and business experts. The three winners received grants between R100 000 and R250 000 to help develop their businesses, and a trip to attend Slush 2017 in Helsinki, Finland.

“The greatest and priceless gift FemBioBiz has given to me as a woman entrepreneur is the knowledge and skills that were imparted to me which have really enabled me to transform our company into a successful business,” says Stella Gonye of Chengie Technologies, Zimbabwe.

The FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme is looking for female entrepreneurs in the SADC region using biotechnology or other innovations in health or nutrition. Eligible participants are: innovative businesses - entrepreneurs whose business is based on an innovative biotechnology or other technologies that impact health and nutrition; growth businesses - bio-entrepreneurs whose annual turnover is R500 000 minimum and are looking to grow their business to twice that within a year; social enterprises - private bio-businesses or bio-enterprises with impact targeting the lowest socioeconomic sectors; and female students in tertiary institutions with feasible ideas based on innovative biotechnologies or other technologies that impact health and nutrition.

“The programme was an eye opener for me, especially coming from a research background and being an entrepreneur. Before FemBioBiz, I did not even understand what pitching was. FemBioBiz boosted my understanding of different types of pitches, the Business Canvas Model, PESTEL, how to write a business plan, and how to truly become an entrepreneur. These are not things we even talk about at the university,” says Prof Keolebogile Shirley Motaung of Global Health Biotech, South Africa. After she won the 1st prize of the FemBioBiz Season 1, she has also won the Innovative Women of the Year award at the Gauteng Women of Excellence award ceremony.

The deadline for submitting applications is 20 April 2018. For more information on deadlines, timelines, conditions of entry, and submission details, please visit the FemBioBiz Season 2 page.

Individuals from all the 13 SANBio member states in SADC region are encouraged to apply; successful applicants will take part in the nearest country’s programme.