Geneva, 27 Feb 2023: Today, we are announcing the public launch of the 100% non-profit WiNFUND NFT Africa collection, a group of unique digital artworks that will create a community of innovators, investors and supporters to champion the next generation of African women tackling some of the continent’s biggest health challenges.
Behind the mint is the new Women in Innovation Fund (WiNFUND), co-founded by consumer goods company Reckitt and the Health Innovation and Investment Exchange (HIEx), in partnership with the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Eco Bank Foundation. The fund aims to address two significant areas of inequality, first, the fact that 1 in 2 people, or half the world, lack access to essential healthcare, and secondly, less than 2% of venture capital funding globally goes to women despite evidence their ventures generate stronger returns. WiNFUND will unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs to address both of those gaps.
“1 in 2 people, or half the world, lack access to essential healthcare.”
WiNFUND will invest directly in women entrepreneurs already implementing home-grown solutions to some of the continent’s most urgent health challenges.
WiNFUND will be partly financed through the sale of WiNFUND NFTs, unique digital art designed by Rwandan artist Christella Bijou. The collection has been supported and made available in close collaboration with technology partner, Tokenproof. Additional funding will come from mission-aligned donors, partner organisations, and high-net-worth individuals, who, together with WiNFUND NFT holders, will create a global community of mentors and supporters committed to improving access to healthcare and women’s entrepreneurship.
WiNFUND NFT holders will gain access to invite-only events on Sustainable Development Goals and will be invited to join a mentorship scheme to directly support the successful women entrepreneurs.
Since applications opened in September, WiNFUND has received more than 300 applications from women entrepreneurs in seven African countries – Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. A shortlist of applicants will be announced on International Women’s Day on 8 March. All shortlisted applicants will receive business support to help them scale, while the top few selected will receive direct funding from WiNFUND.
Applicants include Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa from Uganda, who launched Community Healthcare Innovation Lab (CHIL) to screen women in remote locations for cervical and breast cancer using artificial intelligence (Al), after being treated for breast cancer herself.
Also in Uganda, Dr Mercy Ashaba is helping people manage the cost of healthcare through the fintech company she co-founded, Peleyta Health. Its micro-savings and lending platform helps low-income Ugandans afford quality healthcare.
And in Kenya, Umra Omar, founder and director of Safari Doctors, is leading her team of medics delivering primary healthcare to some of the country’s most remote regions.
By investing in companies like these, WiNFUND will directly support women entrepreneurs to scale their enterprises, extending their reach and helping more people than ever access high-quality healthcare. WiNFUND’s ambition is to replicate this model on other continents in the future.
To learn more, or to purchase NFTs, please see https://winfundnft.org/
Reckitt and the Health Innovation and Investment Exchange co-founded WiNFUND in September 2022 to support innovative, women-led, health companies to improve access to healthcare. Initially launched in Africa, WiNFUND was open to applications from women entrepreneurs from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda during H2 2022 and received more than 300 applications. WiNFUND provides investment, business support and mentoring for female entrepreneurs developing innovative healthcare solutions. In a unique funding model, WiNFUND will partly raise capital through the sale of NFTs as well as through mission-aligned donors, corporate partners and HNWls. WiNFUND partners include the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Eco Bank Foundation, and Tokenproof. Further information can be found on the WiNFUND website.