Trendy jewelry made in African slums goes international: A Kenyan Startup company has used mobile technology to link local artisans with global markets. The company, founded and managed by women, distributes some of Africa's coolest fashion items via Internet.
Akirachix is a social startup. Formed by a core team of eight entrepreneurs, of which seven are women, it develops its work with the support of a large number of volunteers who provide mentoring to new students. In many cases, these volunteers are former recipients of training courses. Akirachix has also developed a strong network of key partners such as iHub, Google Rise, Computer Aid, Seneca Group, and infoDev, who support the organization in a number of ways. Akirachix originally benefited from an infoDev grant and a sponsorship from Google Rise, and the startup still mainly relies on grants and external support.
A total of 49 women entrepreneurs took part in the three-day workshops,representing growth-oriented and innovative businesses. They underwent intensive training in GyB methodology aimed at strengthening their skill sets, networking acumen and access to mentoring, markets and finance. So far, 100 innovative growth entrepreneurs have been trained since 2013.
Three out of every four poor people in developing countries live in rural areas, and most of them depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. In many parts of the world, women are the main farmers or producers, but their roles remain largely unrecognized. The 2008 World Development Report: Agriculture for Development highlights the vital role of agriculture in sustainable development and its importance in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving by 2015 the share of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger. Gender inequalities limit agricultural productivity and efficiency and in so doing, undermine development agendas. Failure to recognize the different roles of men and women in costly because it results in misguided projects and programs, forgone agricultural output and incomes, and food and nutrition insecurity. This Sourcebook is a joint project of the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Women, Business and the Law, a publication of the World Bank Group, presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women’s prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. It is hoped this resource will inform research and policy discussions on how to improve women’s economic opportunities and outcomes.
This essay discusses the potential of ICTs for ensuring gender equity as well as the policy level decisions required to mainstream gender in the initiatives and schemes formulated by the government.
InfoDev's Women's Entrepreneurship Program
Across the developing world, women business owners are far more prevalent at the informal and micro-scale than small and medium sized enterprises, which are often run by men. This is due to a number of complex reasons, such as traditional women’s roles and cultural attitudes. It is also because entrepreneurial women running promising companies with the potential to scale lack the autonomy, finance, and skills necessary to expand their businesses.
infoDev seeks to promote the role of women as entrepreneurs who establish companies, spur innovation, create jobs, and drive the charge toward gender equality in the developing world. We support incubation centers and social networking groups convening female innovators and technologists. Of our global business incubation network, 127 centers have executed programs specifically providing support to women entrepreneurs.
Several activities of our Women’s Entrepreneurship Program are funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland under the Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy Program. Under this program, and through its Agribusiness Innovation Centers, infoDev will increase agricultural productivity and add commercial value to agricultural products. This program will benefit mostly women working in agribusiness and food processing. More recently, activities benefitting female entrepreneurs are also implemented under the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean, financed by the government of Canada, and in the mobile innovation program, supported by the Swedish International Development Agency.
Our Women’s Entrepreneurship program helps growth-oriented, women-led SMEs scale up their businesses by eroding the barriers they face. We do this in the following ways:
- Supporting women entrepreneurs throughout the infoDev Global Incubator Network by integrating gender-sensitive elements to all our programs;
- Improving access to finance for women-led, growth-oriented ventures;
- Showcasing successful women entrepreneurs; and
- Piloting new regional approaches to business support.
For a deeper look at our Women's Entrepreneurship Program, check out its chapter in our Work Program.