Barclays Africa Group’s fintech innovation hub in Cape Town, South Africa has announced that they will support five women entrepreneurs in the information and communications sector. The Rise hub will provide a year-long subsidised membership to the Rise co-creation community and workspace.
“The intention is to lower the barrier to growth for women entrepreneurs by supporting them with access to a space and community that can help fast-track their personal and professional ambitions through mentorship, access to markets, and access to learning and skills development opportunities,” says Shirley Gilbey, Head of Rise and Co-creation at Barclays Africa Group, which owns Absa.
The Rise hub is part of a network of seven Rise centres globally, enabling members of the local Rise community to connect with counterparts and mentors in other parts of the world, including London, Manchester, Vilnius, New York, Tel Aviv and Mumbai.
Helping small businesses to achieve sustainability and growth is vital for both the development of companies, industries and economies. Small businesses are critical for job creation, improving living standards, raising productivity and achieving inclusive economic growth and social cohesion. Support is particularly critical for women entrepreneurs and especially in developing economies.
“We specifically selected women entrepreneurs for the important role they play in driving economic growth – research has found that women in developing countries are largely prevented from harnessing their full potential due to a lack of funding, regulatory restrictions, lack of training and socio-cultural restrictions,” says Gilbey. “By providing an enabling environment for these women, we can contribute towards their ability to start and run successful businesses.”
The participating start-ups were selected based on a number of criteria. They had to be early- or seed-stage entrepreneurs with novel and potentially disruptive patented technology. The affordability of their solutions and value to their respective communities were aspects that were also considered. So too were the expected development and growth potential of test products, current clients and business traction.
Four start-ups have been selected to date:
88 Business Collective: Headed by Antoinette Prophy, 88 Business collective is an accelerator programme focused on emerging women entrepreneurs. The 18-month programme creates an ecosystem for women entrepreneurs to grow through collaboration, access to new markets and by providing a platform for accountability as well as a sounding board for better decision making.
Trade Circle: Founded by Lauren Davidse, Trade Circle is developing a digital business-to-business (B2B) trading platform to modernise the supply chain of and for small, medium and micro enterprises in developing economies, connecting all stakeholders in the supply chain directly in order to reduce distribution costs, create financial security and improve supply chain transparency.
Minderz: Started by Boitumelo (Tumi) Menyatswe, Minderz is an online platform that connects pet parents/owners with experienced, available and vetted sitters. The platform allows pet lovers to gather in one community and offers a variety of pet services to pet owners such as dog walking, pet sitting, pet boarding, and house-sitting services. Minderz enables the customer to have full control of what service they want and who they want to care for their fur-kids, and the platform has a uniquely built-in identity verification system for the safety of both the pet owner and consumer.
Girl Hype: is the brainchild of Baratang Miya and is an education technology (edtech) start-up. Girl Hype has three product offerings: the first is the Women and Girls Code Academy to create a pipeline of employable women in tech; the second is the Women In Tech & Entrepreneurship clubs solution, where women learn how to start a tech company and are provided with the tools necessary to commercialise these companies; and the third is a Women Executive Fellow Programme for graduates who are mentored by women in tech at an executive level.
“Our ultimate objective is to support the power of small businesses,” says Gilbey. “This is co-creation for shared growth.”
The Rise hub, together with the Absa’s Western Cape enterprise development team and Barclays Africa Group’s citizenship teams worked jointly to facilitate the Women Tech Entrepreneurs initiative. Barclays Africa Group will evaluate the success, sustainability and potential scaling of the model once the project has been completed.
One more opportunity remains for a fifth women entrepreneur in the ICT sector to join the initiative. Interested parties can email Rise at email@example.com with a brief – 250 word – motivation on why they would like to participate in the initiative. Weighting will be given to financial technology (fintech) innovations.