Women’s Involvement in Business in Africa Improved but Still Faces Enormous Challenges

A quarter of all businesses on the continent are started or run by women, in contrast to Europe where the share of entrepreneurial activity by women is a lowly 5.7%. “Africa does stand out in the global landscape when it comes to entrepreneurship,” according to Toni Weis, a financial specialist at the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab.

“Of all the regions, Africa is the one that has gender parity in self-employment and entrepreneurship, which is really quite remarkable especially if you look at a neighbouring region like the Middle East and North Africa.” Women’s strong participation in business in Africa is linked to a number of factors, including survival – formal job prospects can be limited, necessitating innovation and self-employment by women.

Conversely, it is also likely that strong economic growth in many countries, widespread urbanisation and changing laws around women’s rights across the continent have enabled much greater female participation in businesses in recent years.

There are also now far more initiatives that encourage women’s participation, including specific calls for female applicants for roles.

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