By Adeyemi Adepetun
Botswana, Uganda and Ghana are ahead of other African countries with the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs.
This is contained in the 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE). For the third consecutive year, Botswana with 38.5 per cent, leads other countries in the region, while Uganda (38.4 per cent) and Ghana (37.2 per cent) follow.
The Index’s benchmark indicator is calculated as a percentage of total business owners.
The latest is the fifth edition of the MIWE, which spotlights the significance of the contributions of women entrepreneurs around the world, including in Africa, and provides insights into factors driving or inhibiting their advancement.
According to MIWE, in many African countries, women’s advancement is hampered by less supportive entrepreneurial conditions, lack of funding, fewer opportunities for higher-level education as well as structural barriers. It pointed out that Botswana, however, is among 15 countries with the most advanced outcome for women, particularly in terms of income.
Botswana also scores highly in MIWE 2021’s ‘women’s labour force participation rates, ranking 13th globally.
MIWE observed that although ‘women’s entrepreneurial activity rate has declined in most economies, a number of African countries saw gains in the area, indicating a strong positive entrepreneurial response to the pandemic. Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, South Africa and Botswana all performed well in ‘women’s entrepreneurial activity rate’ with Nigeria, Angola and Ghana ranking in the joint first place. These activity rate rankings are despite the fact that in Nigeria and Angola government SME support ranked 62 and 53 respectively, while general access to finance ranked 61 and 63 respectively.
Ghana scored slightly better on these metrics at 44th for government SME support and 37 for access to finance. Ghana is ranked sixth globally (69.7 per cent) in terms of entrepreneurial attitudes and perceptions.
According to the rating, in both Nigeria and Angola, women’s entrepreneurial activity rate exceeded that of men even though women tend to be marginalised in terms of opportunities. Both economies display a strong, optimistic culture where there are perceived business opportunities.
These positive and healthy entrepreneurial attitudes boost women’s aspiration to become more financially independent, the report says.
MIWE informed that Nigeria also ranked second globally for the number of women professional and technical workers with 59.1 per cent score while Angola ranked second globally in hiring intentions with 16.4 per cent of adults planning to employ six or more people in the next five years.
In addition, Angola tops the global ranking in female opportunity-driven entrepreneurship and is the sixth in self-perceived business capabilities.
Country Manager and Area Business Head for West Africa at Mastercard, Ebehijie Momoh, said women in Botswana, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Angola stand out as excellent examples of women’s determination to provide for themselves and their families, despite facing financial, regulatory and technical challenges. He said in the affected countries, women are able to leverage opportunities in their respective environments to be business owners, leaders and professional or technical workers.
The report said in Malawi, a less wealthy economy, women continue to defy the odds and are making strong inroads in the business world despite socio-cultural barriers and infrastructural constraints such as a lack of government SME support, poor access to entrepreneurial finances and severe lack of opportunities for education. The gender gaps in entrepreneurial activity rate in Malawi are amongst the narrowest on a global scale.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and economic downturn, Mastercard’s research indicates that women entrepreneurs in Africa are resilient and adaptable, particularly those in low and middle-income economies, often surpassing men in terms of entrepreneurial activity.
The report stressed that the entrepreneurial spirit sees opportunity every day to reimagine, refresh and reinvent – a defining factor for women’s success in business since long before the latest crisis.
“Continuing to create the right social, political and financial understanding and conditions for this entrepreneurial spirit to realize its success is of singular importance for future economic growth. Government policies that intentionally support women’s entrepreneurship can also meaningfully contribute to a swifter, more balanced recovery.”
MEANWHILE, as part of Mastercard’s commitment to creating a world where women entrepreneurs are equally represented and supported, the company made a global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025. The company noted that not only will empowering women’s entrepreneurship act as a catalyst for growth and innovation, but it will raise up the communities around successful women and fuel a global recovery that is more equitable and sustainable for everyone. [guardian.ng]