Female agro-dealer wins FemBioBiz Country Competition in Malawi

Fannie Gondwe (Centre) posing for a photo with Marja-Reetta Paaso and Professor Emmanuel Kaunda

Lilongwe-based agro-dealer Fannie Gondwe won the 2017 Female Biosciences Business (FemBioBiz) Acceleration Programme’s local competition in Malawi.

Mrs Gondwe will join other top performers who will have the opportunity to meet investors, business experts and potential mentors, as well as visit Cape Town to participate in the Innovation Summit 2017. She will also be flown to South Africa in July 2017 to represent Malawi at the regional FemBioBiz bootcamp.

The FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme was launched in February 2017 by SANBio with the support of BioFISA II, a Finnish-Southern African Partnership Programme to strengthen the NEPAD-SANBio network. The competition in Malawi was arranged with assistance from the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).

The major objective of the programme is to develop leadership, technological and business skills in female-owned businesses in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to support deal-making and business acceleration in the Biosciences arena.

BioFISA II Chief Technical Advisor, Mrs Marja-Reetta Paaso said: “This programme aims to empower women entrepreneurs. We have female entrepreneurs who are working in the areas of health, nutrition, animal health services and products, among others.”

The best performer will receive a grant of R250 000 to move their business forward and a trip to attend Europe’s leading start-up event Slush 2017 in Finland, where international opportunities await.

LUANAR’s Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Emmanuel Kaunda described Mrs Gondwe’s success as a landmark achievement in the world of female entrepreneurship.

“This [competition] was advertised in all the SANBio member states in the SADC region. But to think that these women could see the call and provide their own proposals; and then, get selected, is a huge achievement,” said Prof Kaunda.

He added that all the contestants were articulate about their proposals, which means they are passionate about them: “They presented proposals, which were not refined. Yet, they are able to say what they want to say and the potential markets for their proposed products/services. This means they know what they are doing,” he narrated.

Mrs Gondwe said she was excited to be selected winner. She said she would now work towards polishing her proposal so that she can impress at the international competition in South Africa.

“I won’t let Malawians, SANBio and LUANAR down. I will deliver my best,” she promised.

The competition is open to women from SANBio member countries. By providing opportunities to women entrepreneurs, the acceleration programme fits into the 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, as well as the livelihoods of women.

For more information, click here or visit: http://innovationsummit.co.za/fembiobiz-acceleration-programme/

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