Female Foundry is an initiative aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs through a system of mentorship that ultimately boosts innovation, diversity, social sustainability and tech leadership.
Now South Africa is joining four other Dentsu Aegis markets in launching the business growth programme here. CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network in South Africa, Koo Govender, said the company would partner with local media owners to find the most deserving candidates for the programme.
One of the global media holding company’s businesses, iProspect (Singapore) conducted research that ultimately resulted in the Hear Her Voice report that exposed the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in emerging markets, with gender inequality being a prime stumbling block for businesswomen.
“Developed by iProspect in Singapore the programme has subsequently been rolled out in India, Mexico, Chile and Canada, accelerating progress towards our goals and our ambition to support 100 female founded businesses in the digital economy by 2020,” Govender told The Media Online.
“In conjunction with traditional communications, we will be utilising all our social media channels through paid media to amplify the programme and get the message to the candidates,” she said, adding that applications would be judged by a panel in order to find the businesses they think would be “strengthened and future-proofed for growth and success”.
She said one of the main challenges for women entrepreneurs in South Africa was the lack of mentorship. “By empowering women with strong mentors, we hope to assist them in building their business and providing the entrepreneurs with valuable skills to fast track their business. Through the launch of Female Foundry, wewill be offering experienced mentorship to empower and develop female-led businesses,” she said.
The criteria for selection are:
- The business venture must be female founded.
- The organisation must be female-led, and women must be the majority of shareholders in the business.
- The company must be trading and should have the aspiration for growth.
- This programme is for current businesses that are trading, but not necessarily profitable.
- The business should be leveraging technology in some capacity or are willing to adopt new technologies to scale and grow.
Delivered in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, the 20 entrepreneurs selected will participate in a three-day bootcamp, which culminates in a mentoring phase during which female entrepreneurs are paired with a mentor from South Africa to take part in regular mentoring sessions.
“We are proud to partner with Dentsu Aegis Network on this programme. It provides female entrepreneurs with invaluable support and the training they need to thrive in today’s complex digital economy,” said Taj Heer, managing director of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, in a statement. “Our expertise in entrepreneurship, mentoring and venture management combined with Dentsu Aegis Network’s expertise in digital technology is a strong proposition that has the potential to make a true difference for female leaders and their businesses.”
Govender said Female Foundry would start addressing the gender parity gap. She said while DAN’s female employees numbered 69% percent, it was incumbent on the company take an active stand in bridging the gap. “In today’s competitive environment, mentorship is even more vital to ensure we empower female run businesses and assist female entrepreneurs with acquiring skill sets without having to overextend themselves financially,” she said. “Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook once said, ‘Knowing that things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better’.”
If you are a female entrepreneur and interested in participating in this year’s programme, visit Female Foundry here.