Women were the biggest beneficiaries of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which ended on Sunday in Nairobi.
The United States State Department, the Global Entrepreneurship Network and two foundations have set up a venture exchange for women in Nairobi and Kampala.
The Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa, created during the GES Youth + Women event, will support the women for a month in the two cities where they are expected to develop their business more rapidly through collaboration and access to a new entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The entrepreneurs will be supported by the Mara Mentors, the Global Entrepreneurship Network community and the Case Foundation while in a host city.
Four women will get the first chance to build their businesses in the pilot programme which will be extended across Africa.
“I had access to these opportunities as an entrepreneur learning the ropes in East Africa and I want young entrepreneurs to have even more which enable them to build thriving businesses,” said Mr Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and the Mara Foundation.
The initiative will serve as an exchange and mentorship programme for women, leveraging well-established networks in more than 35 countries to scale the programme rapidly throughout the continent.
The Mara Mentors will also seek to mentor more than a million youth and women entrepreneurs in East Africa. The mentorship programme seeks to encourage sharing of ideas and knowledge between East African entrepreneurs and experienced professionals across the world.
Mara aims to empower 1 million youth and women entrepreneurs in the region by the year 2020 through mentorship and financing to enable them create and grow successful businesses.
“For entrepreneurs at the start of their life, a real obstacle to growth is the fear of failure. The best way to overcome this fear is to access mentorship from real business experts who have gone through the same experiences.
We aim to help build the entrepreneurship ecosystem which consists of mentorship, access to finance and government policies,” said Mr Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation.