The Women in Business Challenge the business plan competition seeking women entrepreneurs presenting businesses with the potential for high growth and impact – returns in its fourth edition. While many people talk about the necessity for gender equality and the opportunity to improve societal attitudes to women in emerging markets, the competitors of this challenge are actually doing something about it.
All too often it is generalised that Africa’s women entrepreneurs struggle to impose themselves on a continent which marginalises and neglects them. But while women are stifled by structural and cultural barriers which inhibit their ability to start and grow a business, the number of entrepreneurial women innovating and entering the private sector on the continent in recent years provides cause for optimism.
The World Bank recently stated; “The rate of women’s entrepreneurship is high in Africa—higher than in any other region”. A point extenuating the inroads Africa’s women entrepreneurs have made on the path towards gender equality in the past decade.
With greater access to finance and business coaching services, the number of women engaging in entrepreneurial endeavours, in both Africa and other emerging markets, will only increase.
A woman’s capacity to provide economically for herself and her family, does not only benefit her. It has become evident that women engaging in the private sector present a powerful source of economic productivity, increased job creation and the improvement of development outcomes.
Strengthening the role of women in African communities and solidifying their position as ‘bread winners’, can have a multi-faceted impact on African economies and African society. In addition to economic growth, this revision to the widely accepted dogma of women as housewives is likely to make institutions and policies more representative, strengthen democracy and continue Africa’s progress this millennium.
The Women in Business Challenge, organised by BiD Network, has identified the provision of coaching and investor connections to women entrepreneurs from around the world as the most significant and influential assistance they can receive.
When starting her business Nuba Foods, Kosi Yankey, a finalist of the Women in Business Challenge 2012, faced a number of challenges. “The number one difficulty I had was actually finding the right mentor to help me along the way, which I think is very important,” she said. “You’re constantly being bombarded with information, it is important to seek out mentors to guide you.”
Competition partner, ING, is currently recruiting business coaches of the highest calibre to offer assistance and advice to women entrepreneurs from around the globe. While any competitor who applies prior to January 31 will benefit from these coaching services, the finalists of the competition will win a business trip and meet with investors, while the eventual winner is awarded tailor-made advisory services worth €5,000 from UnitedSucces.
If you’re a woman entrepreneur and think you have what it takes, accept the challenge today. Sign up for the Women in Business Challenge 2013.