Monday, January 27,
2020 / 4:10 PM / Nifemi Taiyese for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV
According to Diarietou Gaye, the Director of Strategic Operations, World Bank Africa Office, the continent is the only region in the world where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs, a phenomenon that is not the subject of adequate discussion.
Diarietou Gaye believes that expanding the opportunities for female entrepreneurs through policies that foster gender equality would have a tremendous impact on Africa's growth. Simple and inexpensive solutions have been proven effective and need adoption on a wider scale.
To further underscore the importance of this assessment, WebTV engaged Dr. Natasha Katuta Mwila of the Department of Strategic Management in De Montfort University, Leicester, the United Kingdom, on Deepening Women Entrepreneurship in Africa, to drive growth and development.
She identified the first step as understanding the plight of women, stressing that the challenges women face in entrepreneurship are different and vary according to the sector they operate and also the span of countries the business covers. There is a need to understand their challenges which are the starting point.
According to her, the individual challenges female entrepreneurs face could be socio-cultural or institutional.
The second issue she raised was the fact that Africa has a lot of success stories from female entrepreneurs, and such achievements need sharing for others to be able to network and those trying to be successful tap into those networks.
Creating networks for women and navigating these networks are some of the aspects her work covers, she stated.
She said her research and studies had explored the power of networks in connecting female entrepreneurs to opportunities from where they reside to the rest of the continent.
Dr. Mwila also cited two of her case studies, the first female business originally set up in Zimbabwe but is now exporting goods across the continent and the globe. The second case according to her, is originally from Nigeria but operating in South Africa. The big picture for the female entrepreneur involved here is her determination to drive cross border trade, scaling her business to the regional level.
She emphasised the need for policies by governments on the continent geared towards encouraging and mobilizing women entrepreneurs.
Countries like Rwanda and Uganda are leading in the drive to create an enabling environment for women-owned businesses and ensuring that they have access to the required capital to scale their operations.
"In different countries, when there is a change of government, there is a bit of reluctance to revisit the policies or to continue with existing policies from the past. If a policy that works, then it should be kept going regardless of what government of the day exists then that would help boost the business climate and create an enabling environment for female businesses to thrive," Dr. Mwila said.
She also made a strong case for women to participate actively in the political space in Africa so that they can be empowered to influence policies that will deepen female entrepreneurship in Africa.