Botswana Innovation Hub Advances Dreams of Female Entrepreneurs

The Botswana Innovation Hub hosted Season 2 of the FemBioBiz (Female in Bio-technology Businesses) Programme Competition Awards in August 2018 at the Home of Innovation- Science & Technology Park, Gaborone.

The FemBioBiz, a programme by the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) exist in 8 SADC countries being Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Botswana, the Botswana Innovation Hub serves as a strategic partner for the implementation of the FemBioBiz Season 2 Acceleration Programme Competition. The competition consists of four categories namely Growth Businesses, Innovative Businesses, Social Entreprises and Female Students in Tertiary Institutions.

The FemBioBiz Programme aims to address the gender gap in leadership positions in the bioscience-based businesses by imparting leadership and entrepreneurship skills to females. It acts as a stimulus for women to improve their businesses and set up best practices for other women to emulate. The Awards ceremony was preceded by a series of workshops and coaching sessions for the 10 finalists to assist them to scale up their business ventures and to increase their value as leaders and role models in the community.

The FemBioBiz programme also creates a platform for women to network and access regional and international markets, obtain business development skills and access financing. Since inception, the Programme has received over 600 applications from 10 SADC member states and trained over 200 women with businesses that address the health and nutrition challenges of the SADC region.

The Botswana 10 finalists were selected amongst 47 applications from across the country. The finalists participated in bespoke business workshops and coaching sessions and went through a thorough adjudication process.

Four winners were selected out of the 10 finalists and got an opportunity to compete in the SA Innovation Summit start-up competition for a trip to Silicon Valley where they will stand a chance to win US$1 million. This is in addition to the in-kind benefits that the Botswana Innovation Hub avail to them in three stages of Pre-incubation, Incubation and Acceleration.

Participating at the Annual Southern Africa Innovation Forum gives them an opportunity to further sharpen their communications skills and facilitate for them to pitch to a pool of investors in the Bioscience space with possibility of winning cash grants. There are opportunities to proceed to further participate at a global start-up festival called SLUSH in Helsinki, Finland in November 2018.

The winners will participate in key interventions provided for under the BIH Technology Entrepreneurship programme covering list of interventions below:

  • Access to highly subsidized hot desking platforms at BIH with internet for a prescribed period.
  • Facilitation to access specific markets.
  • Facilitation to access grants, development financing and other funding instruments to scale-up their business.
  • Business development interventions, networking and
  • Access to key quality testing and products development platforms including access to R&D.

Through the FemBioBiz, the female bio-entrepreneurs have grown their regional and international networks, as a result, some of them have expanded their businesses outside countries of origin. Furthermore, some have received further funding to grow and expand their businesses aside from the skills obtained during the competition.

The 2017 FemBioBiz winner, Nkata Seleka of Sleek Foods Company said, “Participating in the FEMBioBiz programme and competition has helped me to expand my business from supplying supermarkets to supplying KFC Botswana with Chakalaka that replaced the KOO brand Chakalaka. I have increased the number of my employees from 4 to 9 and we are proud to source our ingredients from local farm produce”.

Brand & Communications Manager Kemiso Ben said “By recognizing the FemBioBiz winners, Botswana Innovation Hub remains committed to supporting women entrepreneurs leading Bio technology innovations that are financially sustainable and socially responsible. FEMBioBiz competition continues to contribute to the local and regional economy, by seeking out courageous female entrepreneurs who continuously innovate sustainable solutions for present and future generations”.

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