Empowering women entrepreneurs

Graca Machel advances the conversation on financing women entrepreneurs in Africa

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Graca Machel during the official launch of 2x Invest2Impact Business Competition.

Her Excellency Graca Machel was in Nairobi in July to support 100 women-led businesses in East Africa to access funding from G7 countries in partnership with her organization, Graca Machel Trust.

The renowned children and women’s rights advocate first interacted with her partners among them Barclays Bank and diverse networks representing women in media, finance, Agribusiness and even those in tech to accelerate the conversation surrounding gender inclusion and diversion towards women’s social, economic empowerment.

“The objective of this platform is to work together with women movements in removing barriers faced by the minority by implementing agendas that will open big avenues for millions of women and the generations to come,” Machel said during a partners’ dinner in Nairobi.

The second event saw her officially launch a 2X Invest2Impact, which is a business competition aimed at providing access to funding to help develop women-led initiatives in East Africa. This will support women entrepreneurs seeking to make a positive impact on local economies and are strong candidates for external investment. The funders include development finance institutions such as FinDevCanada, Commonwealth Development Corporation Group (CDC) of the United Kingdom, Proparco of France and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the United States along with the Mastercard Foundation.

In the culmination of her Kenya visit, Machel launched The Graça Machel Trust’s Gender Lens Investment vehicle (GMT-GLI) in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation to inject more funding to support women’s social and economic transformation advancement in the formal and informal sectors. This was in partnership with New Faces New Voices, a Pan African advocacy organization founded under the Graca Machel Trust.

The GMT-GLI project derives inspiration from a research by its umbrella body Graca Machel Trust on the Growth barriers affecting women entrepreneurs in East Africa that indicates lack of avenues to either self-financing or from traditional financial institutions due to instability and lack of requirements to access funding. Businesswomen seeking financing that is larger than the normal microfinance loans only get limited options locking them out of receiving funds.

Founded in 2010 by Graça Machel, Graça Machel Trust is a Pan-African organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls through child health and nutrition, education, women’s economic and financial empowerment, leadership and good governance.