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Accelerating Women’s Entrepreneurial Dynamics in Africa

November 20, 2020

Women are the backbone of the African economy, but women’s entrepreneurship in Africa is an uphill battle, particularly in terms of access to financing.

Africa, a land of effervescence and challenges for women entrepreneurship

Africa is fertile ground for female entrepreneurship: the continent has the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity for women in the world: 24% of African women entrepreneurs vs. 11% of women in the Southeast Asia & Pacific countries, 9% of women in the Middle East, 6% of women in Europe and Central Asia. Very large disparities between men and women, however, are remaining. Three main factors lie at the source of African women’s financial difficulties:

  • Unfavorable structural conditions for women: lower education levels and lower asset endowment.
  • Difficulties in accessing financing: failure to meet loan conditions and self-exclusion.
  • A predominantly subsistence entrepreneurship: small businesses with modest financing needs and a business model that offers little guarantee of solidity to investors.

Women’s Entrepreneurship in Africa: Plural Realities on the Continent

We have established a segmentation of countries according to the “Women entrepreneurship readiness” index, which identifies four types of countries: the “locomotives,” the “challengers,” the “next emerging countries” and the “resurgent countries.”

These four groups of countries are defined as follows:

  • 9 “locomotive” countries characterized by political stability, high levels of gender equality, a regulatory system favoring parity and mature financial ecosystems. South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia.
  • 4 ”challenger” countries with economic development and financial ecosystems superior to other African countries, but modest rates of women’s participation in entrepreneurship. Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.
  • 12 “next emerging” countries defined as a group of heterogeneous and median countries regarding female entrepreneurship, due to limited access to financing and the maintenance of a significant level of gender inequalities. Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
  • 7 “resurgent” countries characterized by limited economic development, high gender inequalities, high political instability, low levels of banking among the population and a poorly developed financial system. Angola, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania and Chad.

Access to financing: a key to entrepreneurial success

African women’s difficulties in accessing financing vary according to sources of funding and countries: while microcredit is distributed equitably among women on the continent, other sources of funding show significant differences between men and women.

What are the potential improvements to boost and support entrepreneurship in Africa?

Discover in our study our six recommendations to use mesofinance as a lever to accelerate the entrepreneurial dynamics of African women and five levers to bring together the socio-economic situation of women entrepreneurs and mesofinance offerings.

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Accelerating Women’s Entrepreneurial Dynamics in Africa

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Women in Africa - Improve access to financing to support the entrepreneurial dynamic.

Published November 2020. Available in
Further readings
Portrait of Laurent Benarousse
Senior Partner, Member of Supervisory Board
Paris Office, Western Europe
+212 529 0113-54