SAIS 2 emphasises the role of women and gender equality in its activities as gender inequality remains one of the greatest problems in developing countries.



Gender vs. sex: We adopt the definition of gender from the World Health Organisation whereby the characteristics of women and men are described as socially constructed, as opposed to sex which refers to the characteristics that are biologically determined. Gender is, therefore, the learned behaviour making up gender identity and determining gender roles.

The economic strengthening of SAIS 2 partner countries will be enhanced by the successful implementation of gender inclusive practices, which are outlined in the strategy for the application of human rights based management and gender inclusion. By promoting gender mainstreaming throughout the result areas, it is expected that a deeper understanding by the key actors will ultimately result in engagement and more benefits being afforded to and by women with regard to entrepreneurship and innovation.

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Only 31 % of research positions in Sub-Saharan Africa are held by women and globally less than a third of companies are owned by women. What are the challenges women face as entrepreneurs?

In order to understand how to better include women in technology entrepreneurship, SAIS 2 and Hivos wanted to understand what kind of experiences women have in driving technology startups in Southern Africa. More specifically this study explores the challenges female entrepreneurs face and how to better support the women.  

This booklet will share inspiring stories of the startup founders who overcome barriers of age, gender and ethnicity as entrepreneurs in a male-dominated technology industry. We give the spotlight to experts who have been working in the space of entrepreneurship support and hear their views on what persisting challenges exist for female entrepreneurs and what could be done to ease them.

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In addition, the findings provide insight into entrepreneurship ecosystems in seven countries in Southern Africa from the perspective of female-driven startups and the business support organisations operating in the fast-moving urban environments.

Specifically, the findings shed light upon the female experience in entrepreneurship. The results can inform the business support organisations operating in these countries – and beyond – about how to design and implement initiatives that are better-suited to women entrepreneurs. 

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This publication has been designed by the trusted designer for SAIS 2 Programme, Clara Mupowiwa-Schnack, who is the creative mind behind the SAIS 2 brand. After her studies in Visual Communications in Cape Town, she worked for 2 top advertising agencies in Windhoek and consequently started her own design studio 9 years ago. The flexible schedule that comes with running your own business, awarded Clara the opportunity to become a Graphic Design lecturer at a local college. She regards this as her biggest achievement, as she is passionate about skills transfer particularly to the up and coming wave of tech-hungry, highly creative and driven Namibian youth. The biggest fulfilment is seeing more and more women in her classroom, an affirmation of the ever-increasing representation of females in the creative industry. By supporting, empowering and believing in each other as women in business, particularly in the tech space, Clara believes that this is one way we can pave the way for the future female entrepreneur, change-maker and innovator.