The new ECA report shows that tackling educational gaps can benefit African women entrepreneurs
Addis Ababa, Jan 19, 2021 (ECA) – A new report finds that education gaps are limiting the success of women-owned businesses in Africa and offering solutions to address the imbalance.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today published its report on Women’s Entrepreneurship, which examines data from tens of thousands of African entrepreneurs and businesses to find links between education, access to finance and improved productivity.
First, the report shows that education is a critical factor in productive female entrepreneurship in Africa. For example, women with a primary education or less are 27 times more likely to start a business for necessity than women with higher achievement dependent on opportunity.
Needs driven entrepreneurs do not have productive and innovative activities that could transform their business. In comparison, opportunity-motivated entrepreneurs are more likely to work in profitable sectors and are expected to create around 17 more jobs over the next five years.
Second, improving women’s education levels can improve their ability to hold bank accounts and save for businesses. Women with secondary education are 51 times more likely to have a bank account and 22 times more likely to have savings than women with lower levels of education.
Finally, the results show a positive relationship between access to finance and business practices and performance of women. Firms with credit innovate more, buy more assets, and borrow more from banks than those that are financially constrained.
The Director of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Department, Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, said: “Women’s entrepreneurship is recognized as the greatest untapped opportunity for sustainable economic growth and social development.”
While Africa leads the world in the number of women entrepreneurs, for the most part by necessity they tend to be smaller and face more barriers to securing support and investment.
Ms. Ruzvidzo added, “Our report examines the factors behind this context and identifies evidence-based recommendations that will assist governments in designing conducive strategies so that all women have the appropriate education, skills and resources to run profitable businesses, grow and maintain.
“Successful female entrepreneurship is not only a catalyst for women’s economic empowerment and regional self-sufficiency, it is also important to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.”
The report recommends that African countries focus on improving women’s education beyond primary education and enforcing laws to remove barriers to education such as early marriage and pregnancy.
Market-specific vocational training, training courses for soft and hard skills and mentoring opportunities are also proposed to prepare young women for opportunity-oriented and high-quality entrepreneurship.
With regard to access to credit, the report urges governments to regulate gender-specific financial products, including digital solutions that address the pressures of women entrepreneurs, particularly those at the end of the value chain.
It also outlines specific incentives and commitment plans to stimulate and promote the savings of women entrepreneurs in a formal economy, which can instill the habit of making regular contributions. For example, moving from rotating savings clubs to village-level savings and credit associations can help rural women gain access to credit and earn interest.
The report identifies the critical need to offer insurance products to protect women owned businesses in rural areas that are more vulnerable to climate and health crises.
Finally, it encourages countries to enact laws prohibiting creditors and cultural practices from discriminating against women in access to credit, property or inheritance.
The “Women’s Entrepreneurship Report: Education and Finance for Successful Entrepreneurship in Africa” is the first to be commissioned for the region.
Economic Commission for Africa
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Tel .: +251 11 551 5826
Email: [email protected]