Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Growth & Jobs | FEMPOWER to level the playing field for female entrepreneurs

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2023 | 12:05 AM
Andrea Bolton-Fyffe, Technology Innovation Centre incubator manager.
Andrea Bolton-Fyffe, Technology Innovation Centre incubator manager.

GEARED AT preparing female entrepreneurs to maximise their business potential through a process of nurturing, mentoring, transforming and empowerment of their fledgling or established enterprises by leveraging technology and training, the FEMPOWER Entrepreneurship Programme had a soft launch recently at the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC), University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech).

FEMPOWER is a pre-incubation programme, the brainchild of Andrea Bolton-Fyffe, manager of TIC. It was formed out of her realisation that there are severe limitations placed on female entrepreneurs, as identified by the 2021/22 Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Report, particularly with regard to issues such as accessing financing. These limitations inhibit the development of many female-headed businesses, some of which also have shortcomings in the application of business principles and formal structure, which further serve to deny them access to the financing and other critical factors needed to scale up.

“The process focuses on all stages of the business cycle – from idea to prototype, from market validation to early revenue,” Bolton-Fyffe noted, adding that it involves “hand-holding, training and coaching divided into modules structured for new businesses and start-ups (under $15 million in annual sales) and those above that threshold”.

Attendees at the launch were treated to a presentation from Dr Altreisha Foster Bentho, author of Cake Therapy and founder and CEO of Sugar Spoon Desserts, based in Minnesota, USA, who is listed as one of the 20 female entrepreneurs to watch in 2023 by the influential US Journal publication.

Dr Foster Bentho gave tips from her journey into entrepreneurial success, which began as a diversion away from her profession as a virologist, into her baking hobby during a pause following the birth of her second child. Elle Magazine had called asking to post one of her cakes and this encounter morphed into a business that has taken this girl from Golden River in Above Rocks, St Catherine into sustainable wealth creation.

Dr Foster Bentho called on women to be “brave in exploring their artistic side” and to embrace entrepreneurship as a way of building generational wealth.

Bolton-Fyffe noted that, as FEMPOWER takes its first steps, it holds the promise of not only breaking down barriers through knowledge creation, but also of “fostering a new generation of empowered female entrepreneurs who will not only maximise their business potential but also contribute significantly to economic growth and sustainability”.

“This initiative represents a beacon of hope and empowerment, and is poised to make a lasting impact on the entrepreneurial landscape. The TIC will continue to work with its partners in the industry to boost entrepreneurship that will contribute to national development,” Bolton-Fyffe said.