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Debbie Peters' Fundraiser:

African Women's Empowerment Investment Fund

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Debbie Peters


I'm setting up an African women's investment company to empower women and alleviate poverty. Traditionally, Africans have relied on hand-outs but by using business principles, it is possible to sustainably lift the poor and women in particular out of poverty. The first step is to set up a business development company in Zimbabwe to list on the stock exchange similar to Wiphold in South Africa,, which will be focused largely on empowering women and poverty alleviation. The idea is to bring in retail investors and use the vehicle to invest in projects in Zimbabwe, largely in real estate, a sector that I am very familiar with. I would like to focus on educating mostly women and the low-income demographic into becoming first-time investors on the stock exchange. The investment vehicle will plough back dividends or actively invest in women's empowerment, poverty alleviation or even microlending. For instance, one of the first things I plan to set up is a scholarship fund to send deserving, underprivileged students to university. As a qualified pharmacist, another priority of mine will be healthcare and expanding access to HIV medication in the rural areas. Investors in the fund will have an input into both the sectors the fund will invest in and the location of the investments so that investment will also flow away from the main centres like Harare. Secondly, the fund will take a systematic approach to investing by analyzing the areas where there is need for development, such as housing and agriculture.

My mother has owned hair salons all my life and as a pioneering female entrepreneur she empowered a lot of women over the past 30 years that she has been business so these women are really my target market to invest in my company. With the proceeds I would like to build real estate and infrastructure to take advantages of the opportunities available in Zimbabwe. Any real estate developments will incorporate Green technics and renewable energy like solar lighting. While I am prepared to leave Nigeria to pursue this personal project, I will not turn my back on it completely because if the business is successful in Zimbabwe, I would like to scale it as far as Nigeria as this is a market I now know well.

The starting point for me is to raise capital for listing fees, marketing, etc. It's a fairly new concept in Zimbabwe as the company will function like a private equity/venture capital firm using the proceeds of a public listing. I am not interested in dealing with the usual institutional investors who dominate stock exchanges as I would like to introduce the masses to the concept of buying shares and use that value as a way to gain wealth to secure their future financial needs.

Finally, all donations to the fund are convertible into equity as shares in the fund or it can be donated into the scholarship fund after the start-up costs are covered.



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