Still too many roadblocks for women entrepreneurs in Africa

While women entrepreneurs are leading the way in African countries there are still too many roadblocks.

The Guardian’s Global Development section says these “female rising stars of business are still seen as second class citizens.” Afua Osei, co-founder of She Leads Africa, documents real issues behind the plaudits.

Ms Osei says “women’s ability to deliver on this potential is tightly constrained by a lack of access to support services, sponsorship from business leaders, and supply chains. Pervasive sexism and structural inequalities have created a troubling dichotomy – glorification of African artisans and farmers who are women, but little true interest in cultivating rising female industry leaders.”

One example is in Nigeria where many women are drawn to work in the food and cosmetics industries and start their own businesses. But this involves a drawn out and expensive process of obtaining a licence for manufacturing from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

In a country where women are more likely to be poor, more likely to be primary caregivers to dependents, and are less likely to be educated the time and resources to dedicate to jumping through these hoops are in scarce supply. This, Osei argues, means, “barriers to entry are too high for them to transform from subsistence enterprises to transformational businesses.”

At the same time, new research from the World Bank suggests that the global economy is losing £120 trillion to the gender pay gap. Women’s share of global capital is 38% – a figure that has increased only 1% since 1995. A lot of the shortfall comes from North America and Europe – where capital is generally larger the difference is a greater proportion.

At the Gardiner Foundation, we believe that entrepreneurship and owning a business is the best way out of poverty for individuals, their families, and their community.

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