Graca Machel challenged African women to be game-changes in the challenges facing the African continent. She was speaking during the launch of 2X Impact to Invest initiative in Nairobi. The First Lady of South Africa and Mozambique said that the issues that are close to her heart are children, women, and education. The 73-year-old confident lady speaks about the continent’s challenges in a clear and passionate comprehension. Asked why she never took to retirement thanks to her ripe age, here is what she had to say:
“Have I done enough given the fact that I have had many opportunities and privileges? How do I use the platforms that are provided to me to take along young women so that they are recognized, valued, and gain exposure for what they have been doing?”
She’s a humble woman despite her global acclaim and celebrity status. This is evident in her reply when she is requested to talk to represent African women:
“I am not qualified anymore because I am a species facing extinction, and there are lots of young women who are so brilliant.”
Machel launched the 2X Impact to Invest- an initiative of international financial institutions (FinDevCanada, Britain’s Commonwealth Development Corporation, French agency Proparco, and the MasterCard Foundation. It aims at boosting women-led businesses in Africa by providing them with financial and technical assistance. She unveiled the initiative on July 11 in Nairobi. The Graca Machel Trust formed in 2010, provides an institutional framework for lobbying for the rights of women and children. She said:
“The Trust is not about me or my generation. It is about providing a platform for young women to take center stage. Our mantra is multiplying faces, amplifying voices. With the trust, I can rest assured that I have provided a place for women to network and grow.”
Challenges facing African women according to Machel
Women in Africa tend to shrink to their cocoons even if they are making good money for themselves. It’s psychological. We are taught to shut it up. But African women need to celebrate themselves for the efforts they put, hence their success. Another obstacle women have is going for loans in the banks. They would rather borrow from friends and family or rather strain themselves to start businesses. Machel says that women should go an extra mile of even partnering with banks in their startups. In so doing, they can network properly and build themselves.
Women should be game-changers
According to research by the World Bank, a financial deficit of between $260 and $320 billion a year exist in women-led businesses. Graca Machel in addressing this challenge says that women should acquire skills, experience, and the right mindset to make a change in their continent.
The 2X Impact to Invest competition
In this competition, 100 women entrepreneurs selected from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Rwanda will receive business support. They will acquire mentorship, business skills, network building, enhanced visibility, and potential funding. This competition aims to change the perception of women-led businesses. Having come from a low-income background, Machel understands well about the average African woman and she is determined to see her improve.