Women entrepreneurs in Africa are playing an increasingly important role in driving economic growth and development across the continent. Despite the challenges they face, women entrepreneurs are leveraging their creativity, innovation, and resilience to build successful businesses and create opportunities for themselves and their communities. In this article, we will explore the current state of women entrepreneurship in Africa and highlight some examples of successful women-led businesses.
Current State of Women Entrepreneurship in Africa
Despite progress in recent years, women still face significant barriers to entrepreneurship in Africa. These include:
- Access to Capital: Women entrepreneurs often struggle to secure funding for their businesses, with limited access to traditional financing options such as bank loans and venture capital.
- Legal and Regulatory Barriers: Women entrepreneurs face legal and regulatory barriers to starting and growing their businesses, including restrictions on property ownership and access to government contracts.
- Socio-Cultural Barriers: Socio-cultural attitudes towards women’s roles and abilities can also pose significant barriers to entrepreneurship, with women facing discrimination and bias in accessing business networks and opportunities.
Despite these challenges, women in Africa are increasingly taking on entrepreneurial roles, with women-led businesses accounting for 22% of businesses in Africa. This represents a significant opportunity for economic growth and development across the continent.
Examples of Successful Women-Led Businesses in Africa
Wecyclers is a waste management and recycling company founded by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola in Lagos, Nigeria. The company uses a fleet of bicycles to collect recyclable waste from low-income neighborhoods and delivers it to recycling plants. Wecyclers has created jobs for over 300 people and has diverted over 5,000 metric tons of waste from landfills since its inception in 2012.
MiSafi is a Kenyan company founded by Beth Koigi that produces affordable solar-powered lanterns and home systems. The company’s products are designed to provide clean energy access to low-income households, reducing their reliance on kerosene lamps and other harmful sources of energy. Since its launch in 2013, MiSafi has sold over 500,000 products and has expanded its operations to several African countries.
- African Clean Energy
African Clean Energy is a Lesotho-based company founded by Judith Joan Walker that produces clean cookstoves and energy systems. The company’s products are designed to reduce indoor air pollution, improve health outcomes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. African Clean Energy has sold over 50,000 units since its inception in 2014 and has won several awards for its impact on sustainable development.
- O’live Handmade Soaps
O’live Handmade Soaps is a South African company founded by Samantha Saggers that produces handmade soaps and skincare products. The company uses locally-sourced, natural ingredients and employs women from disadvantaged communities in South Africa. O’live Handmade Soaps has won several awards for its sustainable business practices and has expanded its operations to several international markets.
SasaAfrica is a Kenyan e-commerce platform founded by Sylvana Bonifacia Sinha that connects artisans and small businesses with global customers. The platform provides a range of services, including online storefronts, payment processing, and shipping logistics. SasaAfrica has created jobs for over 300 artisans and small business owners and has generated over $250,000 in sales since its launch in 2011.
Women entrepreneurs in Africa are overcoming significant challenges to build successful businesses and create positive social and economic impact across the continent. These entrepreneurs are leveraging their creativity, innovation, and resilience to build sustainable businesses that create jobs, increase access to essential services, and contribute to the development of their communities. As more women take on entrepreneurial roles in Africa, there is an opportunity to promote gender equality.