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The importance of financing women-owned MSMEs

There is significant evidence that women are the glue that holds their families, communities and even local economies together all over the world. This impact is particularly keenly felt in emerging economies such as those in Africa, where women are drivers of growth and widespread financial inclusion.

In fact, we have done research into this trend through our Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship and found that female entrepreneurs in developing countries are driven by resilience, determination and desire to provide for their families.

Although the research was focused on only select markets initially, we learnt that women in these markets typically tap into local business opportunities that are not dependent on knowledge or innovation alone, effectively allowing them to avoid substantial financial, regulatory or technical constraints.

According to the index East Africa, specifically, shines in this area: the Index showed that Uganda has the highest percentage of female business owners in any of the 54 countries surveyed worldwide, with 34.8 per cent of businesses in the country owned by women.

What’s more, Uganda’s women boast a 100 per cent entrepreneurial activity rate, 93.9 per cent labour participation rate and 90.5 per cent borrowing or saving rate for the purposes of opening a business.

Tanzania is also making notable strides in this area, with dedicated programmes like the UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment helping many of the country’s young women entrepreneurs hone their own skills and capabilities as well as generate employment opportunities for other young people.

The Kenyan Government has made provision for 33 per cent of Government jobs and procurement opportunities to be accessed by women. If we look at Nigeria, we also notice a high percentage of female entrepreneurship, with as many as 41 per cent of the country’s women acting as entrepreneurs.

This is notably higher than many developed countries like the USA where only 10 per cent of women are entrepreneurs and France where a tiny three per cent of women are entrepreneurs.

These examples serve to illustrate the sheer value of women entrepreneurs, and why it is critical to finance women-owned businesses and micro, small or medium-sized enterprises in supply chains – and in Africa, in particular – in order to truly be able to generate the economic growth that is necessary at local, national and global levels. – Omokehinde Adebanjo, Area Business Head for West Africa at Mastercard

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