Women to benefit from SSP 4 billion enterprise fund

Women to benefit from SSP 4 billion enterprise fund
Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Sabula. [Photo: Sheila Ponnie]

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) yesterday launched a $9.4 million (approximately SSP 4 billion) worth of competition for established South Sudanese women in businesses.

The Investing in Women in South Sudan program, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), is a climate-smart agriculture initiative that seeks to bring to market innovative commercial business models that are most effective in empowering women.

In an exclusive with The City Review, the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF’s) Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Sabula, said the program will attract ‘‘women-owned and women-focused businesses in the agri-rich Central and Eastern Equatoria States that will directly benefit women and encourage the adoption of climate-smart technologies and practices through this competition.”

“South Sudan has great potential. The women of South Sudan, especially, deserve opportunities that will really bring out the potential that they have. They are such a hard-working group of people. A lot of women in South Sudan are in a number of households the sole breadwinners, and we want to see that for those that are in businesses, how do we support them so they get to expand their business and to do more with their skills and passion? ” she emphasised .

Victoria said successful applications will receive performance-based awards ranging from $50,000 to $750,000. Furthermore, ‘‘company development aid and specific technical assistance will be offered.’’

“We want to see women making decisions, we want to see women leading, we want to see women thriving in business and that is why we are bringing to South Sudan a gender specific program that will be most empowering for women of South Sudan,” she explained.

“The information that is going to be demanded is information that we believe any business person should have.” But we understand that there are many women-led businesses that actually struggle in terms of formality or even how to put together documentation, and we have technical advisory and support available,” Victoria revealed.

The call is now open today and will run for eight weeks.

James Kenyi, a senior portfolio officer, told The City Review in an interview that the initiative will adopt a market-based approach, sourcing for business concepts through an open competition.

Kenyi emphasised that winning bids be chosen based on their ability to maintain development effect, ensure women’s inclusion, enhance incomes, generate meaningful jobs, and improve living conditions for rural populations in South Sudan’s targeted regions.

 “We are Looking at the program benefitting a minimum of 8 businesses under window one and a similar number in window two,” he elaborated

Julius Egbeyemi, Head of Development Cooperation at the Canadian Embassy in South Sudan, revealed that the initiative will benefit around 6,000 small scale farming households. He reaffirmed Canada’s assistance for the economic empowerment of South Sudanese women.

Speaking at the event, the minister of the gender child and social welfare, Aya Benjamin Libo, lauded the programme, saying, ‘‘ it will enhance women’s economic empowerment in agriculture value chain in the country to increase income, reduce climate risks and transform lively hoods.’’