Despite the traditional viewpoint that women are restricted to duties of the home, namely child-rearing and housekeeping, women in African countries are fighting to change that.
Women are accounting for more and more of the amount of business owners that exist within the sub-Saharan region of nations, primarily countries such as Ghana, Nigeria & Kenya. Holding a comparison between some of the most developed economies in Africa and in other regions, Nigeria outranks the US and the UK in terms of percentage of entrepreneurs among women with a rate of 41% for the African country against 10% and 5.7% for the two developed countries respectively.
The reported figures become even more impressive when one considers just how difficult the road of entrepreneurship is for women in Africa. If anything, it’s riddled with even more challenges than it is for men, mostly due to the social stigma that may be tied with ‘breaking tradition’ for women in business.
According to an independent study performed by the French Development Agency in 2013, roughly 11 cities in the sub-Saharan region of Africa are still of the view that women should be confined to roles of housekeeping and child-rearing, regardless of financial standing, or authority in the household. Therefore, the prospect of women pursuing business degrees, let alone setting up a business, is still widely considered taboo.
Adding to the social stigma would be the ways female SME owners would network in order to grow their connections. Networking by males usually take part in a male-centric locale, such as sports bars, where a feminine presence to conduct business networking may be met with scrutiny.
With regards to finances, SME owners that are female have less access to capital than their male counterparts. As outlined in a Findex report conducted in 2014, approximately only 30% of all women in the region have access to a bank account. Besides, women in Nigeria and other developing economies have shown to be 20% less likely than men to have a bank account and 17% less likely to have borrowed formally.
However, despite all the setbacks that women may face, there are several initiatives in place, designed to support women entrepreneurs and help them grow and flourish. MasterCard has, on its part, committed to three partnerships directed at promoting women entrepreneurship in Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. These partnerships will be centered on providing young African women with the necessary education, training and mentorship to develop financial literacy, and providing them with easy access to a network of women with an interest in entrepreneurship.
Cava Consulting partner, TECHAiDE is also doing its part to help prepare young women for higher education and grooming them to be future entrepreneurs, more information about TECHAiDE can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/TechAide/