The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has partnered with Nepad’s Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) to implement the second season of the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme in South Africa.

Applications for the programme opened last Monday (5 March) and will close on 20 April.

The FemBioBiz programme aims to develop leadership, tech and business skills in female-owned businesses in the SADC region — namely in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe — to support deal-making and businesses acceleration in the biosciences arena.

“This programme creates a platform for peer learning and will empower women to lead in health and nutrition through science and technology,” BioFISA II programme manager Zvikomborero Tangawamira said in a statement last week.

Applications for the second season of the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme close on 20 April

“As a woman it can be particularly difficult if you have to juggle the complexities of biotechnology, the practicalities of running a business, and the responsibility of bringing up a family,” said Tangawarima.

She added that in spite of these challenges, there are some women successfully running biotech enterprises and that there is a need to showcase them.

“In doing so, we envision that the women involved will inspire others to realise the business potential in science. It will also close this critical gap in support of women entrepreneurs and catalyse a conversation around inclusive economic growth,” she added.

“Coming together with SANBio to run FemBioBiz II in South Africa is an exciting opportunity for AWIEF to ignite change and promote bio-entrepreneurship with impact not only on women in the biosciences sector but the entire South African economy,” AWIEF CEO and founder Irene Ochem said in the same statement.

How to apply

The FemBioBiz Accelerator Programme applications are open to female bio-entrepreneurs and leaders in bioscience-based businesses who would like to grow their business through an accelerator programme and gain regional exposure and access to international markets.

To be eligible for the programme, interested applicants must own a business that generates a revenue of at least R500 000. They must also be looking to double sales growth in the coming year.

Female students with feasible ideas in innovative bio technologies with a potential impact on health and nutrition are also eligible to apply for the programme.

Programme participants stand to win cash grants valued up to R300 000 in addition to mentorship as well as an opportunity to attend Slush, one of Europe’s biggest startup events in Finland.

The first season of the FemBioBiz Accelerator Programme saw 101 women participate in the initiative, with the top three entrepreneurs winning prizes worth R500 000 as well as a trip to Slush.

Read more: Before FemBioBiz programme I didn’t know what pitching was – biotech winner

*UPDATE 12/03/2017 Subsequent to the publication of this article, BioFISA II programme officer Markku-Eemeli Pekonen told Ventureburn in an email that there are four different categories under which prospective FemBioBiz Accelerator Programme applicants can apply.  Pekonen pointed out that the eligibility requirement for businesses to generate R500 000 in revenue only applied to one category. “The criteria for the three other categories is more lax and the requirement of R500 000 in revenue does not apply,” he said.

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