Leading development finance institutions (DFIs) including FinDev Canada, CDC Group (CDC) of the United Kingdom, Proparco of France, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the United States along with the Mastercard Foundation announced today at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference that they are joining forces to sponsor the 2X Invest2Impact – Business Competition. The purpose of the competition is to support the growth of high-potential, women-owned businesses to increase their commerciality and impact. This major new initiative will support women entrepreneurs who have the potential to make a positive impact on their local economies and are strong candidates for investments from development financiers.
While there is no shortage of business competitions on the African continent, and many women-focused entrepreneurial forums, programs, and initiatives, 2X Invest2Impact will stand out by focusing on growth stage women-owned businesses, poised for investment capital. 2X Invest2Impact will provide them with mentorships, business development services, visibility, and the opportunity for funding.
“The credit gap for women-owned SMEs globally is estimated at $287 billion. This means that 70 percent of women owned SMEs cannot access the financing they need to grow a business. This competition aims to directly address this,” said Paul Lamontagne, Managing Director of FinDev Canada.
“We also know that there is a persistent disconnect between investors and development financiers who are seeking to invest in women-owned businesses and those women owners who are looking to grow their companies. Our 2X Invest2Impactinitiative will help bridge that gap by bringing high-quality women-owned businesses together with interested investors,” noted Jen Braswell, Director, Value Creation Strategies, CDC.
The goals of 2X Invest2Impact are to:
- Directly reach women-owned businesses that may otherwise face barriers in accessing investment capital;
- Contribute to the community of women business owners and leaders in the region;
- Gather and share learnings on women in business and gender-lens investing;
- Increase visibility and momentum for gender-lens investing; and
- Pilot an investment prospecting model that could be replicated in other regions.
“Africa is home to more female entrepreneurs than any region in the world. Through 2X Invest2Impact, OPIC is proud to join its 2X Challenge partners and MasterCard Foundation in providing a platform for female entrepreneurs to showcase their successful enterprises and to access critical expansion capital. We are not only reaching these female entrepreneurs but also showing the world what African women can do when they are empowered,” said Kathryn Kaufman, OPIC Managing Director for Global Women’s Issues.
“The Mastercard Foundation is pleased to support this exciting business competition. We know that when we support women entrepreneurs, there is a positive impact in the community. This competition will drive employment and growth,” added Lindsay Wallace, Director of Strategy and Learning, Mastercard Foundation.
The competition will provide value to all entrants, including networking and feedback through insights and benchmarking reports. After an initial application process, twenty-five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be selected for participation. These contestants will benefit from pitch training, access to webinars, podcasts and other learning tools as well as networking opportunities. Each SME will be assigned a mentor and be promoted during a high-profile and well-publicized closing event.
“We are confident that this will be a turning point for the winners of the competition,” noted Gregory Clemente, CEO, Proparco. “They will benefit from improved access to funding, increased visibility stemming from the media coverage and word of mouth and the hands-on mentorship of a leading entrepreneur in their region. We are also very happy to see them entering into an investment readiness support program, which will help these brilliant women entrepreneurs bring their businesses to new highs.”Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.