Women throughout Africa are starting businesses at more than double the rate of female entrepreneurs in other areas of the world. According to the Associated Press, World Bank data indicates that approximately 63 percent of the women comprising the continent’s non-agricultural workforce are self-employed.
Research also showed that many of these women founded businesses because they had to — circumstances such as looming bills and undesirable living conditions, not to mention the need to feed their children, have inspired many women to take fiscal matters into their own hands.
Yet despite the influx of women business owners in Africa and their motivations for taking on entrepreneurship, another study found that governments throughout the continent are not doing their part to create supportive business environments for them. The Dell Gender-Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (2014 Gender-GEDI) indicates that many countries are not meeting basic requirements for granting women equal access to the resources they need for their businesses, Ventures Africa noted.
The constraints of inheritance and family law can also affect the well-being of a female entrepreneur’s venture in Africa, the World Bank additionally noted.
Some organizations are trying to combat this inequality through various initiatives, however. One example is She Leads Africa’s business pitch competition, which is geared specifically toward female entrepreneurs, according to SpyGhana.com.
Others are trying to change the situation by encouraging, promoting and celebrating women business owners — allAfrica.com noted that a Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year will be named by the Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council.
Regardless of the hardships they face, circumstances are not stopping women in the region from achieving great things — as Marcelo Giugale, the World Bank’s director for poverty reduction and economic management for Africa, told The New York Times, “Women in the private sector represent a powerful source of economic growth and opportunity.”