Being an entrepreneur is tough but the current economic climate is probably the most challenging that many businesses have to endure, however, e-commerce brings with it a plethora of opportunities, and more so for female entrepreneurs.
The Africa Women Innovation Entrepreneurship Fund (AWIEF) has partnered with the Canadian High Commission in South Africa, to offer the E-Commerce Capacity Development Programme. During the launch on Friday, 15th January 2021, the Acting High Commissioner, Mr. Chris Cooter addressed 42 female entrepreneurs stating that the High Commission is proud to be the main sponsor of the initiative and that building female entrepreneurs is a path to greater prosperity.
His Excellency continued by stating that e-commerce is the fastest-growing sector, with its exponential growth attributed to the global COVID-19 pandemic forcing many brick-and-mortar stores to quickly pivot and offer online access to their goods and services. The Canadian Government is committed to ensure that the selected female entrepreneurs from 460 applicants are given the necessary skills and exposure to access local and global markets to grow their businesses.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), also a partner to the 12-week programme, during his address Industrial Development Expert, Mr. Juan Pablo Davila, congratulated the entrepreneurs for taking the time to invest in themselves and to commit fully to the 12 modules the course will offer. The UNIDO team observed first-hand during its first cohort offering in West Africa, where participants who have completed the course, have shown exponential growth with a few businesses showing as much as 40% increase in revenue by the end of the 12-week programme.
The journey will probably not be easy for many of the entrepreneurs who have signed up to the programme, as working from home brings with it a host of challenges ranging from child and family care, but the sacrifice says Sarah Carroll, a UNIDO international e-commerce expert and CEO of her own globally successful business Grow Global, will be absolutely worth it, highlighting that female-owned e-commerce businesses are more sustainable and commercially viable to investors. Carroll brings with her a wealth of experience and is committed as much as the entrepreneurs are to their own growth trajectory.
The 12-week programme will also see experts in their respective fields present the different modules like Marek Zmyslowski – selected as one of the Ten Most Important People in Tech by IT News Africa Magazine. The Polish entrepreneur is the co-founder of SunRoof a 2-in-1 solar roof producing business, HotelOnline – a travel technology company and Jumia Travel – Africa’s biggest hotel booking portal listed on NYSE. Zmyslowski is also the bestselling author of ‘Chasing Black Unicorns’ and is passionate about building sustainable e-commerce businesses in emerging economies. He is a philanthropist and founder of MaYa Foundation, another partner and support of the AWIEF E-commerce Capacity Building Programme.
Another inspiring presenter is Maciej Serafin, CMO for Edrone, a Polish-based CRM and marketing automation business that stands out amongst its competitors, thanks to its CRM system which collects and analyzes customer data instantly without any hassle.
Part of the programme is another trailblazing female business owner, Candace Nkoth Bisseck who is the CEO and founder of Innoa Consulting. Having lived, worked and travelled across more than 35 countries in Europe, Asia, and North America, Candace’s work which intersects between the digital economy, capacity building, entrepreneurship and social impact specifically in women empowerment, will assist the 42 female entrepreneurs to achieve their identified goals, in the most innovative and efficient ways.
The ambitious and savvy selected entrepreneurs who hail from various industries from paint and luxury olive oil production to fashion and skincare shared their respective goals which they wish to achieve within the 12 weeks, all achievable and within reach stated Irene Ochem, Founder and CEO of AWIEF. Being an entrepreneur is tough but the current economic climate is probably the most challenging that many businesses have to endure, however, e-commerce brings with it a plethora of opportunities, and more so for female entrepreneurs. Ochem shared her vision for AWIEF to continue contributing to the sustainable economic and social prosperity of women-led businesses in developing communities through innovative and effective economic empowerment initiatives.