New Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa Program to Support Female Founders

Industry: Entrepreneurs

U.S. State Department, Case Foundation, Global Entrepreneurship Network and Mara Foundation partner to create Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa

NAIROBI, KENYA (PRUnderground) July 24th, 2015

Promising young, female entrepreneurs in Africa have a new program to help them grow their startups and reach new markets throughout the continent. The Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa initiative was announced today during the GES Youth + Women event in Nairobi, Kenya.

“One of the things we’ve learned about promoting entrepreneurship is that mentoring can go a long way, especially when mentors can speak from first-hand experience about how to overcome similar challenges and navigate similar environments.” said Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, as she kicked off the event, part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit organized by the U.S. Government and the Government of Kenya. “That’s why we’re launching a program that will connect women entrepreneurs in Africa with mentors right here in the region.”

The initiative will serve as an exchange and mentorship program for high-potential women entrepreneurs around the continent. Through the existing networks and connections of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), the Case Foundation, Mara Foundation and the U.S. State Department, the pilot program will test the validity of the concept, leveraging well-established networks in more than 35 countries to scale the program rapidly throughout the continent.

“The Women’s Venture Xchange offers a more relevant and effective opportunity for emerging women entrepreneurs in poorly supported ecosystems in Africa,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “It allows them to learn from peers and mentors within Africa’s more mature startup communities rather than from another distant continent.”

The Xchange will filter and select four female founders to spend one-month in other African cities where they can develop their business more rapidly through collaboration and access to a new entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Mentorship and strong networks play a critical role in any entrepreneurial journey,” said Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation. “We are excited about the role this program can play in expanding the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs and expanding an African network of future world changemakers.”

The entrepreneurs will be supported by Mara Mentor, the GEN community and other partners while in a host city. The two host cities for the pilot program will be Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda.

“Africa is full of promising young and women entrepreneurs who don’t lack ideas—they lack opportunities,” said Ashish J. Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and the Mara Foundation. “I had access to these opportunities as an entrepreneur learning the ropes in East Africa and I want young entrepreneurs to have even more which enable them to build thriving businesses.”


Media Contacts:
Case Foundation: Allyson Burns, +1 202 870 4750,
Global Entrepreneurship Network: Mark Marich, +1 202 370 6934,
Mara Foundation: Fatima Diallo, +971 50 752 2721,
U.S. State Department: Rachel Wallace, +1 202 647 7285,

About Global Entrepreneurship Network

The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN)  operates a platform of projects and programs in 170 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business. By fostering deeper cross border collaboration through initiatives engaging entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations, GEN works to fuel healthier start and scale ecosystems that create jobs, educate individuals, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth. For details on the programs and initiatives that make up GEN, visit and follow @unleashingideas on Twitter.

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Mark Marich