Access to funding for women-led businesses. Plus practical support to grow your business.

We’re looking for 100 women-led businesses in East Africa to support with a range of access to funding programmes, business support, and multi-national networking. Let’s work together to maximise your potential.

You have a vision of success — and the desire to make a difference in your community, your country, and in Africa. We’d like to partner with you on your journey. Invest2Impact is an exciting women-focused business competition that could change the future of your business.

Enter today and you could be selected for one of four Invest2Impact funding access and business support programmes. Click here for more details.

Will you be one of the 100 Invest2Impact women entrepreneurs?
Maximise your potential and enter here.

Time left until the close of the competition – Complete your entry today!

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About Invest2Impact

Our goal: support women-led businesses with “funding that fits”, market access and strategic networking.

Invest2Impact is a programme of the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) of Canada, France, the United Kingdom and United States, in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, as part of the global 2X Challenge. (What is a DFI? Click here. More about the 2X Challenge: click here.)

Invest2Impact starts with an on-line competition for women-led businesses in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Our aim is to be a partner that recognizes and celebrates the power of women entrepreneurs and that helps you to operate as close as possible to your maximum potential.

Through the competition, 100 entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in one or more of the Invest2Impact programmes:


Direct, face-to-face engagement with one or more of the four Invest2Impact financial institutions to review your funding requirements, readiness and business plan – tailored support for access to funding.


Expert advice and support to unlock funding from other SME funders.  Leverage Invest2Impact’s expertise, relationships and network to build and promote your business investment case. 


A special programme designed for smaller businesses with innovative products or social impact . Receive expert, customised support to develop and implement an African and global crowdfunding campaign.


This programme will fund an all-expenses-paid trip to a major conference, trade show or expo in your industry, in Africa or elsewhere. To maximise the benefit, a mentor will help you prepare your event marketing pack. A great way to build your business profile, grow your network, meet potential customers and put your business on the map.


All  100 selected entrepreneurs will also be part of the 2Xconnect business network  – building new relationships and sharing knowledge and opportunity in each country, the East Africa region and internationally.

Who can enter?

These are the criteria for businesses to qualify to enter the competition.


Your business must be based (registered and operating in) one (or more) of the following countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda;
Your business may operate in a country/countries outside of the above list but must be majority owned (more than 51%) by at least one woman who is a national of one of the countries listed above.


The competition is open to both small and medium-size businesses. The Invest2Impact sponsors and partners are looking for businesses that require funding in the following categories:

  • Funding up to USD100,000
  • Funding between USD100,000
    and USD3-million
  • Funding between USD3-million
    and USD8-million
  • Funding for more than USD8-million

If you fall into one of the above categories, we invite you to enter the competition to receive funding readiness and access support.

Minimum criteria

To enter, a business must have been operating for at least three years, and meet ANY TWO of the following three criteria:

  • At least 5 employees (2 if you are a technology company);
  • Revenues of at least USD50,000 per annum;
  • Assets of at least USD50,000.

Women ownership

The business must be minimum 51% owned by women national(s) of one or more of the countries listed above;
was founded by women national(s) of one or more of the countries listed above (even if their current ownership is now less than 51%).

Businesses can enter in any industry sector (subject to the exclusions below).

Businesses which support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are particularly welcome to enter and can score  additional points in the entry form.

See for more information on the SDGs.

Activity exclusions

Certain businesses are not permitted to enter.

Click below to see a list of businesses which do not qualify to enter, irrespective of country of operation or extent of women ownership.


The competition will not consider applications from any business related to any activity, production, use of, trade in, distribution of or involving:

The competition and its partners will not accept, review or process any application which involves any activity, production, use, distribution, business or trade involving:

  1. Forced Labour or Child Labour:Forced labour means all work or service, not voluntarily performed, that is extracted from an individual under threat of force or penalty as defined by International Labour Organization (“ILO”) conventions.Employees must be at least 14 years old, as defined in the ILO Fundamental Human Rights Conventions (Minimum Age Convention C138, Art. 2), unless local legislation specifies compulsory school attendance or a higher minimum working age. In such cases the higher age shall apply.
  2. Any Product or Activity Deemed Illegal:Under host country laws or regulations or international conventions and agreements.The Following Products or Activities:

    1. weapons and munitions;
    2. tobacco;
    3. hard liquor;
    4. radioactive materials (Ozone Depleting Substances: Chemical compounds, which react with and deplete stratospheric ozone, resulting in “holes in the ozone layer”. The Montreal Protocol lists ODs and their target reduction and phase-out dates.);
    5. gambling, casinos and equivalent enterprises.Financing of these products or activities may be possible only on an exceptional basis, provided, first, all levels of approval have been obtained and, second, these activities are ancillary and may not otherwise be reasonably considered to be a substantial part of a project sponsor’s primary operation.
  3. Pornography orPornography has been regulated by the legal standards that govern the concept of Obscenity, which refers to things society may consider disgusting, foul, or immoral, and may include material that is considered in some societies as blasphemous. Pornography is limited to depictions of sexual behaviour and may not be obscene.Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment. Prostitution is sometimes described as sexual services and/or commercial sex.
  4. Wildlife or Wildlife Products Regulated under CITESCITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or Wild Fauna and Flora.
  5. Hazardous MaterialsSuch unbounded asbestos fibres and products containing PCBs.PCBs: Polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of highly toxic chemicals. PCBs are likely to be found in oil-filled electrical transformers, capacitors, and switchgear dating from 1950-1985.
  6. Cross-Border Trade in Waste and Waste ProductsUnless compliant with the Basel Convention and the underlying regulations.
  7. Drift Net FishingIn the marine environment using nets in excess of 2.5 km in length.
  8. Pharmaceuticals, Pesticides/Herbicides, Chemicals, Ozone Depleting Substances and Other Hazardous Substances Subject to International Phase-Outs orOzone Depleting Substances (ODs): Chemical compounds, which react with and deplete stratospheric ozone, resulting in “holes in the ozone layer”. The Montreal Protocol lists ODs and their target reduction and phase-out dates.
  9. Significant Conversion or Degradation of Critical Habitat.Significant conversion or degradation means the (1) elimination or severe diminution of the integrity of a habitat caused by a major, long-term change in land or water use; or (2) modification of a habitat that substantially reduces the habitat’s ability to maintain a viable population of its native species.Critical habitat is a subset of both natural and modified habitat that deserves particular attention. Critical habitat includes areas with high biodiversity value that meet the criteria of the World Conservation Union (“IUCN”) classification, including habitat required for the survival of critically endangered or endangered species as defined by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species or as defined in any national legislation; areas having special significance for endemic or restricted-range species; sites that are critical for the survival of migratory species; areas supporting globally significant concentrations or numbers of individuals of congregatory species; areas with unique assemblages of species or which are associated with key evolutionary processes or provide key ecosystem services; and areas having biodiversity of significant social, economic or cultural importance to local communities. Primary Forest or forests of High Conservation Value shall be considered Critical Habitats.
  10. Discriminatory, Racist, and [Anti-Democratic Media] and Practices (including Hate Speech).Discrimination/ Racism/ Hate Speech is predicated on destruction, and discrimination/ racism/ hatred against identifiable groups therefore thrives on insensitivity, bigotry and destruction of both the target group and of the values of our society. Discrimination/ Racism/ Hatred in this sense are practices that bely reason; and if exercised against members of an identifiable group, implies that those individuals are to be despised, scorned, denied respect and made subject to ill-treatment on the basis of group affiliation.
  11. Significant Alteration, Damage, or Removal of Any Critical Cultural Heritage.Critical cultural heritage consists of (i) the internationally recognized heritage of communities who use, or have used within living memory the cultural heritage for long-standing cultural purposes; and (ii) legally protected cultural heritage areas, including those proposed by host governments for such designation.
  12. Relocation of Indigenous Peoples from Traditional or Customary Lands.The term “Indigenous Peoples” is used in a generic sense to refer to a distinct social and cultural group possessing the following characteristics in varying degrees:
    1. Self-identification as members of a distinct indigenous cultural group and recognition of this identity by others;
    2. Collective attachment to geographically distinct habitats or ancestral territories in the project area and to the natural resources in these habitats and territories;
    3. Customary cultural, economic, social, or political institutions that are separate from those of the dominant society or culture; and
    4. An indigenous language, often different from the official language of the country or region.
  13. Human TraffickingThe recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labour or sexual exploitation. Human smuggling, a related but different crime, generally involves the consent of the person(s) being smuggled. These people often pay large sums of money to be smuggled across international borders. Once in the country of their destination, they are generally left to their own devices. Smuggling becomes trafficking when the element of force or coercion is introduced.

Invest2Impact Partners

Our vision is inclusive: to be a key contributor to inclusive international development financing, offering innovative solutions that have a sustainable impact.

Our mission is to make an impact: to provide easier access to capital for entrepreneurs in developing markets.

We deliver innovative financial solutions to businesses with the potential to create jobs, empower women and mitigate climate change. Our purpose is to help entrepreneurs build a sustainable future for their businesses, which in turn will better support their communities.

Our goals focus on local development, women’s economic empowerment, and climate action.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining US Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.

Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment and fosters economic development in emerging market countries. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyses new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad.

OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.

Proparco is a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focused on private sector development. It has been promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development practices for the past 40 years.

Proparco provides funding and support to both businesses and financial institutions across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle-East. It seeks to partner projects in key development sectors – infrastructure (with a specific focus on renewable energies), agribusiness, financial institutions, healthcare and education, etc. – and to boost the contribution of the private sector to achieving the sustainable development goals.

Established in 1948, we are the UK’s development finance institution. We’ve been at the forefront of supporting companies that help poor countries grow for the last 70 years.

Like other Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), we aim to increase capital flows to underdeveloped markets so countries can finance their own way out of poverty. DFIs focus on less-developed or fragile markets and on sectors most important for economic growth. Our investments lead to a broad range of developmental impact, which has a transformative effect on sectors and countries’ economies.

Job creation remains our primary strategic focus, as it is the main route out of poverty.

In association with:

The Foundation is currently working in 29 countries across Africa. With our Young Africa Works programme, we will deepen our engagement in some countries in partnership with governments and the private sector to better understand their economic aspirations and identify priority sectors for growth. In each country of focus, we aim to improve the quality of education and vocational training so that they equip young people with the skills employers need; leverage technology to connect employers and job seekers, and drive growth; and enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand through access to financial services.

Why enter?

Here’s how it works – and why you should enter.

  • Are you looking for funding to take your business to the next level?
  • Do you value networking with business leaders and other entrepreneurs?
  • Do you want to explore crowdfunding for a new product or innovation?
  • Would you like to attend a major international Expo or Trade Show in your industry, with your expenses paid?
  • Would you like to work with business and funding experts to sharpen your  strategy and be more competitive?  

If you answered “yes” to even one of the questions above, Invest2Impact can benefit you. Invest2Impact will move you closer to your funding goals, provide you with market access, expert business coaching and multi-national networking opportunities.

By entering the competition you could be selected as one of 100 women entrepreneurs to participate in the Invest2Impact funding and business support programme, and win a share of USD85,000 in prizes.

The first step is to enter the competition using the on-line entry form. The form is designed to evaluate what type of funding support is right for you. It also allows you to apply for the other business support. Our panel of business experts will review all entrants and select the 100 Invest2Impact 2019 participants. You will be kept informed of the progress of your entry, and you will be informed of the competition results as soon as they are available.

If you’re selected, we will tell you which funding or business support programme(s) you will be participating in, and give you all the details of your specific programme: timeframes, activities and benefits.   

Submit your entry and you will also be in the running
for one of these 4 cash prizes!

Each prize comes with the prestigious Invest2Impact 2019 2Xforchange Trophy to celebrate your achievement.
The four winning businesses will be announced at the Invest2Impact  Winners’ Event.



To recognise real empowerment and participation of women in the boardroom and in the workplace.



To recognise a business that is empowering young people and inspiring young achievers.



To recognise a business that is working to address climate change and promote a green economy.



To recognise the innovative use of technology to improve lives and support healthy communities.

Submit your Invest2Inmpact entry form, and if you’re selected as one of the 100 finalists,
you will then be eligible to enter for any of the above prize categories.

2XCELERATE is the funding and business development programme exclusively designed for the INVEST2IMPACT finalists to improve their eligibility for funding from the competition partners.


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Sewit Haileslassie Tadesse
+251 91 111 0766


+256 772 911 719



Please check to confirm that you qualify to enter.

You qualify to enter the Invest2Impact competition.
Please accept the terms and conditions below to proceed.

  • You can download the terms and conditions here

  • Know a great women-led business? Tell us and we’ll invite them to enter.*

  • IMPORTANT: Please note that nomination does not guarantee that the nominated business will qualify to enter. Nominated businesses will be invited via email to enter the competition, subject to meeting the competition criteria.

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