Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE) Project is an initiative that intends to support women entrepreneurs in Africa, particular in the COMESA region. Its ultimate aim is to establish regional business incubator and provide business incubation services to women entrepreneurs in three sectors: agro-processing, handicrafts and ICTs.

This project was conceptualized following numerous studies and field experiences that have shown varying degrees of challenges encountered by women in their entrepreneurial operations. It has also been perceived as a crucial instrument to address these challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in both formal and informal business activities. BIAWE Project will be piloted in 8 countries, including Malawi, under the NEPAD Spanish Fund. Adapting COMESA Programme Approach, the project will be implemented in close collaboration with COMESA Cluster Development Programme.

Participation in this regional project is open to women entrepreneurs from member countries of COMESA. Standard criteria have been established to select women from the COMESA member states. Four centres of excellence that will offer business incubation to entrepreneurs have been identified and it will been hosted in Burundi, Kenya, Sudan and Swaziland, where four incubators namely; Burundi Business Incubator (BBIN), Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), Sudanese Women General Union (SWGU), Small Enterprise Development Company (SEDCO), were selected to provide the business incubation services.

BIAWE General Objective:
The general objective of the BIAWE Project is to establish and upgrade a network of business incubators in the COMESA region that will contribute to the increased survival and growth of women enterprises.

Specific Objectives:

  • To increase the number of women entrepreneurs accessing business support services from business incubators
  • To increase the women entrepreneurs that access affordable credit to improve and grow their businesses
  • To strengthen partnerships between public and private sector and establish a women mentorship initiative.

Main activities are as follows:

  • Incubation support (i.e. facilitate procurement of processing or manufacturing equipment/machinery for training purposes)
  • Establishment of Incubator Houses/ Trade Hubs
  • Provision of onsite processing and manufacturing methods
  • Technical and business skills training for women entrepreneurs
  • Facilitation of access to finance (Credit Guarantee Scheme in collaboration with PTA Bank; Economic Empowerment Fund)
  • Policy review concerning women entrepreneurs