Female entrepreneurs a driving force in African SMEs

The rate of female entrepreneurship is higher in Africa than in any other region of the world.

Nomsa Daniels, the Executive Director of New Faces New Voices, an African organization of women in business and finance whose mission is to accelerate the economic empowerment of African women, explains at a recent AfDB conference, ‘Women in Africa represent 52% of the total population, contribute approximately 75% of the agricultural work, and are responsible for 60-80% of the food production. Yet, they earn only 10% of African incomes and own just 1 per cent of the continent’s assets.’

It is critical woman are recognized as a driving force in the development of African SMEs. Daniels continues, ‘Ultimately, for Africa to succeed in the next decade, be competitive in the global economy, and reach the growth rates required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, it needs to develop the SME sector and women will play a key part in achieving that goal.’ In a recent interview for the Daily Nation in Kenya, Mr Mwangi Githaiga, managing director of the Kenya Women’s Finance Trust (KWFT), the largest women’s finance group in East Africa, explained, ‘The best empowerment for anyone in the world is economical. When you have that power, you can make decisions and choose for yourself.”

At VC4Africa we are proud to support a growing number of female entrepreneurs working on promising ventures. One example is Elizabeth A. Nwibie, a 33 year old graduate of Biochemistry from the University of Benin, Nigeria. She is a youth development activist and has founded the Integrated Agricultural Business Center. She explains her venture is about, ‘Creating easier access for women and youths in the community to farm produce, make use of solar-powered preservation facilities in their neighborhood and gain better access to business development training.’ Asked about her venture she says, ‘I have a genuine interest in actively participating in the development of the new independent African economy. The renaissance is exciting and will best be sustained by strong businesses that offer services and usher in Africa’s brighter future development.’

Another example is Rehema Rahma Juma Hamadi from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Asked why she is a member of VC4Africa she writes, ‘Because I understand that Venture Captial for Africa is the catalyst for seeing that better future in Africa happen. We need help to grow our business so that we can help other businesses get under way, whether they be partners or other participants that need a hand. This way we can pull upward into Africa’s business platforms’ Her business Hidayah Stationary is a office & school supplies resale outlet as well as offering exceptional quality photo copying, typing and printing service in North Dar Es Salaam.

A third and final example is Silvia Aso from Cameroon. She says, ‘I’m an IT Engineer by profession, but I’ve always liked to get at things with my hands, and so was born my love for handicraft. I grew up in Cameroon, worked for a few years in Uganda as a systems engineer at M-Payplus Uganda. I recently came back home and decided to take a little time away for my passion — handicraft. The rest is history still waiting to be written.’Hot Ice is a fashion company based in Cameroon that specializes in supplying affordable African-styled fashion accessories for trendy suburban women. Her vision is simple: to produce and distribute aesthetic and affordable African fashion accessories in a brand targeted at all classes of female society. Hot Ice is working hard to build a fashion culture local consumers can identify with.

We are pleased to see these ventures come online and we look forward to more female entrepreneurs stepping forward with their promising businesses. Here is a powerful info graphic by Afrographique depicting the percentage share of formal firms that are owned by women in Africa. Data from the World Bank.