OPEN: 5 questions to Aysha Tegally

Recently launched, OPEN, an initiative of CSI Energy Group investment cluster, looks at deploying investment into women-led businesses in Africa, filling a gap in the entrepreneurial and financial ecosystem for female founders in the energy sector across the continent.

We asked 5 questions to Aysha Tegally, Consultant and Project Lead of OPEN, on her role within CSI Energy Group, her insights on the women entrepreneurial status in Africa, and an opportunity for us to know more on OPEN.

1. First and foremost, who is Aysha?

I’m Aysha Tegally, I provide consultancy services to various individuals and companies to help close the financing gap for female founders and ensure more women are allocated more capital and are able to deploy it.  For over 10 years, I have been working with entrepreneurs in the UK and several countries in Africa as a business coach, mentor, trainer, and programme designer. Alongside, I am an angel investor and I have set up an angel network - FFI Angels. As a network, we made 6 investments over 18 months in a variety of female founded businesses. The aim for setting up this network was to ‘put our money where our mouths are’ and catalyse capital into women-led businesses.

Recently, I have been onboarded as consultant by CSI Energy Group to build an investment strategy to fill a gap in the entrepreneurial and financial ecosystem for female founders in the energy sector across the continent as part of their wider investment cluster strategy. I’m happy and proud to be working with the team to bring to life their vision to invest in women-led businesses in Africa.


From a personal life perspective, I am a single parent of 2 children. Family driven and passionate about what I do, I believe that women should have the opportunity to work and raise a family. It doesn’t mean it’s not tough, especially for me and many other women who are single parents, but I’ve learnt to juggle and realise I can’t do everything, say no and delegate.  I believe it’s important that women are given access to the resources that they need.

2. How is OPEN going to help women in Africa and how is it linked to CSI Energy Group’s mission in enabling success and improving lives?

OPEN is all about deploying capital to female founders in Africa who have great businesses but are unable to access the capital and strategic support that they need to grow their businesses.  It’s important to us that we ensure that women are given what they need to grow their businesses so that they can succeed and improve their lives and lives of those around them.  We know that not enough capital flows to female founders, according to Africa: The Big Deal, female-led start-ups in Africa have raised $188m (4%) in 2022, while male-led ventures raised $4.6bn (96%). In other words, 25x times less funding has been invested in female-led start-ups in 2022, compared to their male-led counterparts, OPEN is part of the solution to increase that flow by demonstrating that investable businesses exist, how corporates can put their muscles into investing and the benefits of doing it.


Together with my experience of the African entrepreneurial and investment ecosystems and CSI Energy Group’s expertise within the energy sector across the continent, we are combining forces, leveraging synergies to create value and greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs, with a view to maximise impact, on the community, economy, and society at large. This is why OPEN was created and launched. We have been working closely in defining the name and branding, the types of businesses we want to invest in and the processes. Part of my role is to build connections with other investors, institutions, entrepreneur support organisations, women’s networks, and entrepreneurs. I am really excited to see the solutions women-led businesses are providing to the market, and eager to support them in their entrepreneurial journey.

3. Is entrepreneurship an area that is increasingly attracting women across Africa? According to you, what are the triggers?

Africa has the highest number of women entrepreneurs; we know that unlocking women's potential can make a significant contribution to the growth and prosperity of the continent.  Women in Africa have a long history of entrepreneurship, mainly powered out of economic necessity but more and more we are seeing women building businesses to fill gaps and provide services that are needed for their communities, driven by innovation.


I have met and worked with women who are all powered by tremendous ambition and resilience. Resilience in the face of economic downturn and resilience in the face of the challenges faced by women in business. I also came across brilliant minds, with business ideas solving some of the continent’s biggest energy issues. I have seen inspiring independent women, crafting their own messages, building their own businesses, and creating the vision they see for themselves and their communities. They are driven by passion for change, problem solving and innovation. They are finding solutions to the challenges that women face including menstrual health, access to food, employment, to name a few. And I think these are what motivates women, or anyone, to become an entrepreneur.


Entrepreneurship triggers innovation, productivity growth and jobs creation, and more and more, women are being recognized as being a force for growth and bridging gender gaps requires identifying and implementing programs and policies that target the specific constraints that women entrepreneurs face. If we can level the playing field for women in business, if we can help women grow, the African economy will grow. Enabling women to grow businesses is simply smart economics.


4. Access to finance remains one of the main barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. What do you think are the other challenges, and how OPEN remains a solution for sustainable growth?

True. For many women entrepreneurs, it is extremely difficult to raise the financing that they need from banks and other financial institutions.  As a result, their ability to realize their full potential is too often constrained. From the start, they don’t have the same opportunities as their male counterpart, combine this with the burden of unpaid labour in their homes and communities or childcare challenges, they are at a disadvantage. Even more so in capital intensive sectors like the energy sector.


Besides the financial aspect, women entrepreneurs face other challenges. And this is where our tailored support package gets in; OPEN+. As our tagline mentions, “more than funds”, OPEN is more than just investing funds, we are a strategic investor. It’s a long-term collaboration. OPEN+ provides a robust support network, built on CSI Energy Group expertise across various areas, from financial planning, human capital management, governance, branding, contract management and much more.


This dedicated support package has been designed to support women where and when they need it. Women founders report that a lack of available advisors and access to the right information limit the growth of their business. And sometimes, finding the right support and accessing network may be difficult. This is why CSI Energy Group is opening its doors, opening access to expertise, support and network, through partners and customers, we want our investee companies to thrive.

5. What advice would you give to other African women who would like to become entrepreneurs?

Every person’s journey is different and while I am still learning from each woman I meet, one thing which is common to us is that building a business, a career and a home comes with its challenges. You must be clear on your vision, find your purpose, and focus on what really matters to you and prioritise. Build your network, connect with other people in your sector and those outside with skills that you don’t have and ask for help when you need it. You can’t do it all, so create a circle of trusted advisors that you can lean on as and when you need it. Don’t be afraid to make decisions, good or bad, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Get out of your comfort zone, this will help you gain new skills, build your confidence, find new perspectives to problems, and ultimately grow.