By Telford Aduda
Women in Kenya are the victors at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit that begun on Saturday the 25th of July 2015, as the US President Barack Obama announced plans to set up support for women entrepreneurs in Kenya, Zambia and Mali.
President Obama said that there will be launch of three women entrepreneurship summits in these countries as part of the $1 billion planned to benefit entrepreneurs by the US government.
Women entrepreneurs worldwide will also benefit from Sh68 billion ($675 million) funding pulled together from various funds from the US government.
“We are stepping up support for women entrepreneurs who are powerhouse entrepreneurs, they invest more in their families and communities,” said Obama at the GES summit on Saturday. I believe that you have the drive and passion to change the world. As you make these innovations, you make much better problems.
The US Department of State’s successful Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative will in July 2016 launch Africa-focused GIST start-up boot camps and village workshops to train and mentor as well as connect over 10,000 young African women dealing in science and technology star-ups.
The Department of State African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, the Caterpillar Foundation and the StartUp Cup will also open three new women entrepreneur centers that will provide resources, education and training for economic empowerment in Kenya, Zambia and Mali. The centers are also expected to create 7,194 jobs and 630 certified new female mentors by October 2016.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will provide up to $200 million to the Equity Bank Group, lending $450 million in foreign currency with a focus on youth and women to small and medium enterprises over the next five years.
OPIC also signed a memorandum of understanding to provide up to $100 million in Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Women and the International Finance Corporation’s Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, extending debt investments to help support financial institutions supporting women-owned small and medium enterprises worldwide.
Also part of the OPIC financing is a two-year $50 million pilot program that will support smaller earlier-stage companies that generate positive social impact.
The first three commitments under the program will support companies focused on expanding their reach to sub-Saharan Africa.
USAID will provide a $25 million loan portfolio guarantee to support Deutsche Bank’s newly launched $50 million Essential Capital Consortium fund.
This debt is focused on lending to social entrepreneurs targeting financial services, energy and health worldwide, with the main focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking after a presentation by Kenya’s start–up Akirachix, whose head, Judith Owigar, nurtures women by training them in technology, President Obama urged the government to put up policies that will sustain start-ups like Akirachix. He added that it is important for business leaders who are at the GES to establish contacts and take note of important suggestions that will shape government policy for a favorable entrepreneurial spirit.