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Best women bioscience entrepreneurs pitch again in Cape Town with a view to compete in SLUSH, Finland

Best women bioscience entrepreneurs pitch again in Cape Town with a view to compete in SLUSH, Finland

Four upcoming female entrepreneurs in biosciences who recently won the Namibian round of a training competition will go on to compete at the South African Innovation Summit from 12 to 14 September in Cape Town. Those that come out as regional winners will then have to show their mettle in Europe competing in the well-known SLUSH start-up festival in Finland early in December.

The four local winners are Renthia Kaimbi of AquaGreens Namibia, Mary Shikutu of NT Okawa Trading, Mpingana Dax of Kuti Oil and Ndahekelekwa Paulus of Fluffy Mallows. Each of the four won herself a cash prize ranging from N$80,000 for the Namibian Number 1 to N$20,000 for the fourth place.

This competition was part of the second phase of the FemBioBiz accelleration programme launched by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, the local representative for the Southern African Network for Biosciences, SANBio.

This programme supports female-owned businesses in biosciences through a network of bio-entrepreneurs in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to develop leadership as well as technological and business skills, and to promote deal-making and business acceleration.

SANBio is a flagship NEPAD agency for collaborative research, development and innovation that helps alleviate southern Africa’s challenges in health and nutrition. The network comprises 13 of the SADC member states, operating from a regional hub hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa with country nodes in Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology is the local FemBioBiz II coordinator. The programme started in March this year and to date, has run its first two phases in the form of a competition.

Of the 44 applications to enter the programme, 22 were selected for Phase 1 of which 15 proceeded to Phase 2.

The Phase 2 workshop was divided into Bootcamp 1 and 2 trainings sessions, the first held from 18 to 20 June focussing on business strategy, marketing and financial management. Participants had to do their own pitches and take part in practical exercises. The second, held on 17 and 18 July focussed on intellectual property, legal aspects and human resources. It was followed the next day by a pitch competition to select the Namibian winners.

The four prizes were sponsored by the science council, the FNB Namibia Foundation and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Caption: Celebrating excellence in bioscience entrepreneurship, from the left, Lovisa Kambonde-Immanuel of the National Council on Research, Science and Technology, Nina Louw of Rand Merchant Bank, Ndahekelekwa Paulus, fourth place, Mary Shikukutu, second place, Renthia Kaimbi, winner, Enid Keramen, also of the science council, Anna-Claire Mikat of the Gesellschaft fuer internationale Zusammenarbeit and Mpingana Dax, third place.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.