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JAN 18th, 2011

Graça Machel supports IE´s commitment to African women entrepreneurs

Nelson Mandela´s wife and former minister of Mozambique Graça Machel to host the finals of IE's Training and Mentoring Program for Women-Led business in her capacity as President of the Foundation for Community Development.

Graça Machel is lending her support to IE for an initiative designed to promote African women entrepreneurs by hosting an event on February 9 in Pretoria in which 10 African women will present their business plans to a panel of investment experts. The Training and Mentoring Program for Women-Led Business: Liberia, DRC, Rwanda, Senegal, Mozambique and South Africa was created by IE Business School's Center for Diversity jointly with Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), with the collaboration of AECID, to promote the inclusion of African women in the mainstream economy and to generate collective wealth and equal opportunities. The program's main aim is provide participants with support in the expansion of their companies in order to convert them into consolidated mid-sized firms that create employment opportunities and economic benefits for the entrepreneurs' communities. Participants in the event include  Juan José Güemes, President of the International Centre for Entrepreneurial Management IE Business School, IE professor Concepción Galdón, and representatives from a range of investment funds, such as that presided by María Eugenia Girón.  

The ten winners have received a prize in the form of personalized assistance from one of a team of  mentors made up of key players in the international business arena, and the chance to pitch their business plan to a panel of expert investors in Pretoria, South Africa, on February 9. Members of the panel will include investors specialized in social businesses and representatives from the private sector potentially interested in financing some of the businesses or in introducing the entrepreneurs into a global investor network. The event will be hosted by Doctor Graça Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development. Doctor Machel previously served as the Minister for Culture and Education in Mozambique and has worked in the United Nations as an expert in the impact of armed conflict on children. She has lived in South Africa since she married Nelson Mandela in 1998, and continues to undertake prolific humanitarian work. Dr. Machel is a recognized champion of entrepreneurialism among African women.

The program comprises three phases. During the first phase, a group of consultants from each country select 23  African women with the greatest entrepreneurial potential from a total of 300 candidates,  under the guidance of professors Celia de Anca and Pablo Martin de Holan of IE Business School. In the second phase, participants undergo management education and take part in leadership programs run by IE professors in the form of seminars held successively in Senegal, Madrid and Las Palmas.  Additionally, students from IE Business School's International MBA (IMBA) program serve as onsite and online tutors for participants to help them develop their business plans.  The entrepreneurs with the best business plans were selected during the event in Las Palmas, organized at Casa Africa, after which they will now take part in the third and final phase. Celia de Anca, Director of IE's Center for Diversity explained how IE is committed to showing young and future entrepreneurs Africa's potential for the business world. "It is another way of looking at a continent that is so close to us, and it is another way of doing business in a place with such a wealth of unexploited resources."