PRESS RELEASE: Boosting women bio-entrepreneurship

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Boosting women bio-entrepreneurship

 The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has partnered with the NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) to implement the second season of the FemBioBiz Accelerator Programme in South Africa. SANBio is supported by BioFISA II, a Finnish-Southern African Partnership Programme to strengthen the SANBio network. FemBioBiz will be rolled out in a total of 8 southern African countries including Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


“Coming together with SANBio to run FemBioBiz II in South Africa is an exciting opportunity for AWIEF to ignite change and promote bio-entrepreneurship with impact not only on women in the biosciences sector but the entire South African economy”, says AWIEF founder and CEO, Irene Ochem.

According to BioFISAII Programme Manager, Zvikomborero Tangawamira, the “FemBioBiz Accelerator 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. This programme creates a platform for peer learning and will empower women to lead in health and nutrition through science and technology”.

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.

More so, sub-Saharan Africa has not been famous for its status as a leader in female inclusion within the economic sector.However, African women are surprisingly beating the odds and defying the obstacles in the field of entrepreneurship in the region.

This was clearly the case in the 101 women from 9 SADC countries who were trained in the first season of FemBioBiz from which the top three performers won prizes worth R500 000 and a trip to the world’s leading start-up event in Finland, Slush.As a woman, it can be particularly difficult if you have to juggle the complexities of biotechnology, the practicalities of running a business, and the responsibility of bringing up a family. Yet there are women who are doing this, and this Programme seeks to showcase such gems. “In doing so, we envision that the women involved will inspire others to realise the business potential in science. It will also close this critical gap in support of women entrepreneurs and catalyse a conversation around inclusive economic growth”, adds MsTangawamira.


AWIEF fosters women’s economic inclusion, advancement and empowerment through entrepreneurship support and development.

The NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) provides a shared research, development and innovation platform for collaborative research in health and nutrition. The FemBioBiz Season 2 was launched during this year’s SANBio Annual Event on 27 February 2018.

The call for applications for FemBioBiz II is open until 20 April 2018.

For more information and to apply, visit:

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