Women are the backbone of African economies and according to The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report, the continent has one of the highest percentages of women entrepreneurs in the world with 25.9% of the female adult population engaged in entrepreneurial activity, meaning that one in four women start or manage a business in Africa.
Despite the fact that women constitute a high number of the population engaged in business, they do not enjoy equal access to high-quality, demand-driven financial services. According to the IFC’s report Women-Owned SMEs – A Business Opportunity for Financial Institutions, the lack of access to financing is a common constraint on business growth cited by women-owned SMEs. Hence the question: How can we grow the potential of African women entrepreneurs, post-covid?
Exports are an important driver of economic growth and innovation, now more than ever before, as we focus on economic recovery post-COVID-19, women-led businesses have a vital role to play. With access to international markets opening doors to new markets and diversified consumer bases, development of new products and services ideas and access to diversity and talent on a global scale, global opportunities present themselves, unlocking more women entrepreneurship.
Women-led businesses have a key role to play in ensuring that the global reshaping, post covid, involves policy landscapes, government corporations and the international community which will lead to a full sustainable economic recovery; but first, the world needs to be gender-equal and maximize opportunities to promote resilience and competitiveness in the industry for women entrepreneurship in the longterm.
Many women who started and ran their own businesses in the wake of COVID-19, as with everything else, faced a number of challenges starting with domestic and child care duties. With school and office closures, some female entrepreneurs especially single mothers were multi-tasking with childcare and homeschooling alongside running their businesses. On the one hand, pre-covid, female business owners in the UK for example, were much less likely to ask for and receive business funding, meaning that they have most likely been worse off during the pandemic.
Another thing to mention is that COVID-19 largely affected industries such as travel and personal services, where women are more likely to own businesses.
On the other hand, female-owned businesses surged in some industries during and post-covid. Take the printing company, Print-Print for example. They analysed hundreds of print orders received from start-up business between April and November 2020 and found that 78% of these orders were from women, which suggests that many women actually took the pandemic as an opportunity to begin working for themselves.
Despite the difficulties that COVID-19 has brought, female entrepreneurs seemingly had a wakeup call; while some decided to finally invest in their passion, others were not deterred from pushing through in their own businesses resulting in a fresh influx of women from all walks of life, with totally different personalities achieving successes running their businesses. With a creative mind, leadership qualities, excellent communication skills, patience and determination, passion and knowing your worth as a female entrepreneur and businesswoman, you will soar; because being a female entrepreneur in a sea of men can have its challenges, but its rewards are priceless.