• UNITAR ran its online training programme Social entrepreneurship training programme for women in the Horn of Africa from October 2020 to June 2021.
  • 247 women entrepreneurs from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan joined the programme.
  • Participants developed entrepreneurial skills to address local needs through innovative and creative business solutions.
Group of African Women@Envato Elements

26 October 2021, Hiroshima, Japan - The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening millions of jobs and livelihood opportunities around the world, exacerbating youth unemployment, poverty, and social inequality.

Yet, these adverse times have seen entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs, start innovative businesses to address local needs. Entrepreneurship – both for-profit and social – has the potential to help societies weather the pandemic and “build back better.”

UNITAR, with the support of the Government and People of Japan, completed the 2020 round of its Social Enterpreneurship Training Programme for Women in the Horn of AfricaThe online programme aims to equip women entrepreneurs and leaders from the Horn of Africa with practical skills in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation, so that they can lead innovative businesses to address local needs.

One-hundred and eighty-two aspiring and passionate women entrepreneurs from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan took part in the first part of the online course and learned the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and innovation. The top 65 learners continued to the next level, going deeper into leadership, strategy, and innovation in the second part.

The women came from the public and private sectors, academic institutions, and civil society organizations, from a wide range of cultural, geographical, and professional backgrounds.

Challenges and opportunities of online learning

This was the first time that UNITAR had delivered its social entrepreneurship programme fully online, which brought new challenges as well as new opportunities. On the one hand, technical problems and poor internet connectivity disrupted training, and keeping participants engaged online was more challenging than in an in-person setting.

On the other hand, the online learning communities brought together more participants from diverse backgrounds – such connections are key for early-stage entrepreneurs and business leaders. The learners formed trusting friendships in a regional network of like-minded women; these online networks could continue beyond the end of the UNITAR programme.

Unbound by geographical constraints, coaches and mentors – UNITAR training alumni – were able to offer support from Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Sudan. The coaches animated the discussions and shared insights to help the participants apply what they learned in a local context.

Social entrepreneurship training for Horn of Africa women: Learning focus

The Horn of Africa has thriving social and business networks, which are conducive to entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. The region’s young population is also well suited to use new technologies to address their communities’ evolving needs.

With these factors in mind, the programme focused on knowledge and practical skills that would allow participants to address local needs through innovative business solutions.

Topics included:

  • key elements of stakeholder identification, engagement and enrolment in financing new ventures, and building partnerships and the co-founding team
  • self-appraisal of entrepreneurial and leadership style and motivations
  • design thinking
  • communication techniques
  • social entrepreneurship to resolve social and environmental challenges and address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • post-war reconstruction, with Hiroshima as a case study
  • opportunities and challenges in gender equality

positive feedback

Amen Sime Tadesse, a participant

The participants had high rates of course completion and their feedback at the end of the course was positive.

"This was an eye-opener that confirmed to me that ‘Doors are opened for those bold enough to knock.’ [It will] greatly impact my entrepreneurial background and the role I play in my society," said Waruguru Kariithi (Kenya).

"Design thinking was a popular topic. The section showcased how creative thinking can be systematic, and how anyone can be creative," said Mariamawit Solomon Kassa (Ethiopia).

Lina K. Garelnabi (Sudan) reported that her experience with UNITAR “has been fulfilling both personally and professionally. It helped me to expand my horizon and engage with people from around the globe,” while Amen Sime Tadesse (Ethiopia) "learned that leadership is all about serving others, empowering people and developing a team with integrity and vision."

leadership is all about serving others, empowering people and developing a team with integrity and vision.

UNITAR is proud to support such aspiring young female entrepreneurs in Africa and to empower them to take the lead.

Learn more about UNITAR’s social entrepreneurship programmes and read the full report of the 2021 Social Entrepreneurship Training Programme for Women in the Horn of Africa.

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