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Female entrepreneurship : a transformation driver to boost

While Africa is now recognized as the global leader in female entrepreneurship, there are still a number of challenges to overcome in supporting, enhancing skills, and financing these women business owners whose impact is undeniable.

By Dounia Ben Mohamed

Africa stands out as a global champion in female entrepreneurship. This is a well-established fact. However, this doesn’t necessarily represent a victory. In Africa, entrepreneurship is often a matter of survival, a reality that particularly affects women. To meet their own needs and those of their families, they have always developed small businesses, whether in the fields, markets, or kitchens.

Nearly 25% of active women in sub-Saharan Africa are entrepreneurs, compared to only 6% in Europe.

The numbers speak for themselves: nearly 25% of active women in sub-Saharan Africa are entrepreneurs, compared to only 6% in Europe. These figures vary significantly from one country to another and from one region to another. For example, in Ghana, 40% of businesses are led by women, while in Ivory Coast, this figure reaches 58%, and even 89% in Nigeria. In contrast, in South Africa, this percentage drops to 17% (Source: Veuve Clicquot Women’s Entrepreneurship Barometer).

However, real change occurs when these women transition from the informal sector to the formal one, thus transforming their small businesses into large-scale enterprises and venturing into sectors where their presence is not necessarily expected. « Accelerated » in their ambitions by digital means. More than just a miraculous solution, a tool to which, when they have access – 34% of African women on average have access to the Internet compared to 45% of men -, women quickly seize to overcome the challenges they face in their entrepreneurial journey. Disrupting codes, innovating, transforming Africa, both socially and entrepreneurially.

They bring innovative solutions to local challenges

By stimulating innovation, creating jobs, and promoting community development, they contribute to bringing innovative solutions to local challenges, thus participating in solving social and environmental problems. Moreover, they are essential in empowering women, strengthening their financial independence and social status. By promoting women’s economic inclusion, female entrepreneurship contributes to reducing gender inequalities and promoting sustainable and equitable development across the African continent. Undoubtedly, African women entrepreneurs are a driving force for transformation in Africa.

Thus, supporting female entrepreneurship means contributing to the socio-economic development of the continent. Although this idea is widely accepted and dedicated support programs are multiplying, women continue to face several challenges, including access to training, markets, and financing.

They represent only 30% of professionals in the technology field

Access to education, training, and skill-building is a key element for the success of women entrepreneurs. For the time being, women often have fewer opportunities than men to access secondary education, limiting their possibilities. Yet, studies show that the more educated women are, the more they are able to identify and seize entrepreneurial opportunities. However, they represent only 30% of professionals in the technology field.

In the era of the ongoing digital revolution, it is essential to promote girls’ education in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as well as in information and communication technologies (ICT), in order to strengthen their skills to support and lead digital economies.

A financing gender gap of $42 billion

Financing also remains a major challenge: in 2021, the African Development Bank (AfDB) noted a $42 billion gender financing gap in Africa. Women entrepreneurs in Africa receive only 7% of all venture capital funding, despite comparable success rates to men.

To address these issues, initiatives are emerging. Among them, Growth4Her led by Creative Space Startups aim to empower women entrepreneurs by providing them with financial support and acceleration tools. Similarly, partnerships between organizations such as CGEM (Editor’s note: the Moroccan employers’ organization), the French Development Agency (AFD), and the European Union seek to promote female entrepreneurship through information, financing, and networking programs.

These efforts are essential to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Africa. By investing in women entrepreneurs, governments, organizations, and businesses can contribute to creating jobs, stimulating innovation, and promoting long-term economic development. However, to ensure the success of these initiatives, it is necessary to address the structural barriers that hinder women’s economic empowerment in Africa, including access to education, financing, and economic opportunities.

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