Participants must be business women who can write and speak good English. However, once they graduate from the programme, they will be required to mentor at least three fledgling, female entrepreneurs who would not normally be able to access a formal education.
“In Africa, women do most of the work: at home, on the farms, ” says Professor Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, executive director of Ceibs programmes in Africa. “But there are no programmes geared towards enhancing the competence of these women.” He believes that the Ceibs model will tackle this issue. “If we train 20 women, for example, who then help three women each, that’s a total of 60 women who will have benefited by next year.”
The inaugural, seven-module programme, titled Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Africa, will be piloted from today and will run for eight months. Over 20 women have enrolled onto the course and will be studying at Ceibs’ Osei Tutu Centre for Executive Education and Research in Kumasi, Ghana, where they will be given technical training focused on project design and management, finance, entrepreneurial marketing and innovation and business sustainability.
Two key components of the course are: a 12-day stay in Shanghai, where participants will have the opportunity to meet Ceibs alumni and get their advice; and the support from UT Bank, a commercial bank in Ghana, who will accept the programme certificate issued to all graduates as collateral for a business development loan and participation in the bank’s financial literary programmes.
If the pilot proves a success, the business school aims to roll out the programme in selected African countries, such as Nigeria. Ultimately, Prof Atuahene-Gima hopes to create a community of African alumni who will meet once a year to share ideas. “That is the way to scale the benefits up,” he says, “rather than having a programme where people do it, learn the skills and keep it to themselves.”