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Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreuners Empowerment (Biawe)



Implemented by the Department of Social Affairs and Gender, Directorate of Gender, Youth, Sports, Employment, Civil Society and Drug Control, in collaboration with the Directorates of Agriculture, Private Sector, and Macro-Economy.
Director of Gender, Youth, Sports, Employment, Civil Society and Drug Control, and Programme Officer, Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs
External Partners: NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency & the Government of the Kingdom of Spain.


Within the ECOWAS Vision 2020, the Directorate is situated under the following Strategic Frameworks:

  • Strategic Pillar G.3: Sustained Development and Cooperation in the Region
  • Strategic Objectives G.3.4: Provide Policy Direction for the Promotion of Human

Development and Security as an instrument of Poverty Reduction

  • Sub-Objectives G.3.4.2 Promote Gender Equality, Parity, Women and Youth Empowerment


The Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE) project is an initiative that intends to support women entrepreneurs in Africa and in particular the ECOWAS region. The BIAWE concept has been conceived as an instrument adopted to address various challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in both formal and informal business activities.
The BIAWE project is being sponsored by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), with support from the Government of the Kingdom of Spain. The project is being implemented as part of the Empowerment of African women initiative, of the NEPAD-Spanish Fund.  The main aim of the  project is to promote gender equality and to increase the capacities and autonomy of African women, the initiative is also undertaken with the goal of accelerating efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (in particular MDG 3).
Implementation strategies are:

  • Feasibility study for developing incubator model by ECOWAS task force with the support by local

Resource Persons

  • Set up of ECOWAS Task Force (Gender, Agriculture, Trade, Private Sector and Macro-economy)
  • Selection of local Resource persons
  • Appointment of Focal Point in Ministries of Gender in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone
  • Desk research on Business Incubator
  • Feasibility study planning
  • Field data collection
  • Feasibility studies validation
  • Developing model of  business incubator based on the findings of the feasibility study
  • Two days validation workshop with partners (validation of Incubator option, hosting partner, sectors, incubator services…)


  • Implementation of the Business Incubator


  • Review of the Program work plan and Budget following the selection of the model incubator validated
  • Incubator installation (equipment, staff  …)
  • Capacity building of incubates
  • Monitoring and evaluation  


Two Years Project Implementation
Start date: 15th April 2014
End date: 14 April 2016


The pilot program will be implemented in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone for rural women entrepreneurs focus on the most women concentrated  sectors and add valued activities (agro processing,

Impact :
By partnering with an existing institution, the Business Incubator will focus largely on providing relevant services to the two groups of women (sustenance rural women farmers and growth rural women entrepreneurs) in order to address the entire value chain from product to market.  The sustenance farmers/rural women will focus on growing and collecting the produce such that it complies with the necessary food and agricultural related quality standards and regulations; the growth entrepreneurs will take this product to the local, regional and global market.  In this way the sustenance farmers/rural women will not only grow their revenue streams from selling more products, but those with entrepreneurial aptitude can progress to become growth entrepreneurs, assisted by the incubation program.  The growth entrepreneurs will not only grow their own businesses by accessing foreign markets, but will also facilitate and be part of the development of reliable suppliers, essential for export.


General objective of Business Incubator:
The business incubator seeks to provide capacity building, technical assistance, and financial support to emerging rural women entrepreneurs who face constraints that make it difficult to sustain their businesses. The overall goal of the ECOWAS BIAWE project is to provide an enabling environment, and needed support for women in rural communities to establish their businesses successfully, and increase the rate of sustainability

Specific Objectives of the Business Incubators:

  • To strengthen the capacity of rural women to engage in their livelihood strategies 
  • To provide business support services to rural women entrepreneurs 
  • To increase value-added processing of traditional products
  • To provide business management skills; access to financial services and capacity building
  • To share knowledge on conformity to quality norms and standards
  • To create employment  through small business development and acceleration of growth
  • To mentor younger rural women entrepreneurs

Intervention strategies:
Intervention will essentially focus on the following:

  • building the technical, economic and organizational capacities of rural women;
  • building and/or supporting economic and trade partnerships at national, regional and international levels;
  • strengthening skills through the exchange of information and mentoring, with a focus on experiences, methodologies and best practices;
  • providing financial and technical support for rural women in exclusively feminine and mixed industries. 


  • Plan of an model incubator
  • Methodology and criteria for selection of incubates.
  • Capacity building of incubates (40 innovative ideas of Women entrepreneurs)
  • Capacity building of 1000 women entrepreneurs in process modernization and quality  standards
  • Marketing and stakeholder management
  • Facilitated access to finance for 40 incubates and 1000 women entrepreneurs 
  • Developed a mentoring program
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the business incubator.
  • Sustainability of the business incubator.

OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION: (List/state any other information that may be relevant for public consumption that was not captured in any of the sections above)



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