In conjunction with the FAS (Femmes Africa Solidarite) and the Spanish Government, the Center for Global Diversity in Management and the Department of Entrepreneurial Management at IE Business School has accepted twenty-two women from Liberia, South Africa, DRC, Mozambique, Senegal and Rwanda into the recently launched advanced training and mentoring program for women-lead businesses in Africa.The projectâ??s aim is to assist the female participants with the expansion of their businesses in African countries, growing the size and sustainability of the ventures and ultimately reducing the gap between male and female entrepreneurs.

Power of collaboration – Each of the four partners will provide specific resources to the project to help equip, empower, and connect the women selected into the program. FAS will operate through its Pan African Center for Gender, Peace, and Development (PAC) to provide mentoring networks to connect the women in open forums with relevant parties in their business sector to exchange ideas, and find support. Meanwhile, the Center for Global Diversity in Management, along with the Department of Entrepreneurial Management at IE Business School, will provide the training, strategies and tools to equip the women with the business plan development and IT skills they will need to develop their businesses. The Spanish government supports the project through its development initiative, the Program of Cooperation, a commitment to fight poverty and aid Africaâ??s development primarily in Senegal, Mozambique, and South Africa. In addition, the Maputo Declaration, created during the Women for a Better World Meeting in March 2006, has created a partnership between African and Spanish women working together on common issues, primarily in Senegal, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Facilitators and the selections Process – The FAS selected six facilitators from the each of the six countries to help with the implementation of the project in these nations. From January 11th to January 12th of 2008, IE professors from the Center for Global Diversity in Management and the Department of Entrepreneurial Management held a training workshop to prepare the 6 facilitators to recruit and select participants for the program. The facilitators subsequently identified potential candidates, and gathered information on the social, political, and economic situations of their respective countries. Assessments were made of the financial management skills of applicants, as well as the potential scope for development of the businesses selected by the in-country facilitators. Based on these preliminary evaluations, FAS and IE reviewed all candidates and selected the final 22 candidates for the program after evaluating each individualâ??s business and capacities for expansion, in addition to the socio-economic condition of the candidateâ??s country.

Ignacio de la Vega, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management at IE and one of the faculty on the program discussed working with the candidates, â??The teaching experience of working with a talented group of African women entrepreneurs was extremely enriching. I could really see how critical the human factors are in Entrepreneurial activities and how important it becomes to marshall and obtain very scarce resources within this region. Their spirit to achieve their goals and overcome major difficulties is just incredible. I fully expect that these initiatives can contribute to the improvement of conditions for women in Africa and to contribute to the sustainable generation of wealth and employment.â?

Mentors provide support – Mentors have also been chosen to support each of the participants. Women entrepreneurs who are all ready established in the six African countries will serve as mentors, assisting participants with their business plans, and providing advice and support.

IEâ??s Center for Global Diversity in Management is supported by the IE fund, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development through business education. The Center works to provide programs and tools to aid the advance of women in management all over the globe.

â??African countries offer complex and exciting business opportunities,â? stated Javier Amazega, Director of Development for Middle East and Africa, â??We hope that by aiding these entrepreneurs in capitalizing on these business opportunities, we can start to promote the sustainable economic development that will carry Africa through the transition into an emerging market.â?

Role of MBA Students â?? International MBA students from IE Business School have volunteered to assist these entrepreneurs in the process of creating and refining their business plan. After a selection process, students were matched with entrepreneurs according to skill, need and preference. The IMBA students, assisted by Professors of the Entrepreneurial Management area, provide a more balanced focus in the development of the Business Plans, a necessary condition for success. These new teams collaborate in the development of a business plan, providing different perspectives that lead to stronger documents, by incorporating the needs of the customers, of the entrepreneur but also of the investor in the venture.