The rise of women in entrepreneurship is not necessarily associated with the pace of their country’s wealth and economic development as this latest Index on women’s entrepreneurship has shown. The second edition of Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE) revealed that some of the least wealthy and developed economies have higher women business ownership rates than their wealthier developed peers.
Ghana came out on top, with 46.4 percent of businesses in the country owned by women. Uganda came in third, with 33.8 percent of its businesses being owned by women, according to the Index released this month.
The MIWE is a weighted index that helps to better understand and identify factors and conditions that are most conducive to closing the gender gap among business owners in any given economy. The factors include Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Access to Knowledge and Financial Services, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors.
The Index examined 57 different economies around the globe, including Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda. Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi were the new additions.
Ghana scored well in terms of advancement outcomes, as well as Nigeria. Overall scores in this regard were 62.4 percent (Nigeria) and 59.1 percent (Ghana). According to the Index, African countries also scored highly in women labour force participation, with Malawi at 100 percent, Ghana at 96.1 percent, and Ethiopia at 86.6 percent.
South Africa did tremendously well in sharing knowledge assets with women and providing financial access, with a score of 84.3 percent, coming in 6th out of 57 countries. Botswana followed closely with a score of 73 percent.
In effect, the continent scored highly in terms of women Financial Inclusion with South Africa at 98.7 percent, Ghana scoring 84.6 percent, and 77.1 percent in Ethiopia.
The Index results essentially show that women entrepreneurs are the mainstay of economic growth and instruments of development and financial inclusion in Africa.
“Botswana, Ghana and Uganda shine as examples of women’s determination to provide for themselves and their families and Africa excels at creating strong women entrepreneurs with the drive to succeed even in the face of financial, regulatory or technical constraints,” Beatrice Cornacchia, Head of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard was quoted by mastercard.com.
The Index further disclosed that cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs in Africa are predominantly positive – at 69.1 percent in Uganda and 67.2 percent in Nigeria, as compared to their colleagues in the Middle East. Thus, there are inconsistencies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) women’s business ownership.
According to the Index, although Ghana and Uganda have high proportions of women business owners, the reverse is observed in their regional peers such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Iran, Algeria, Ethiopia, Malawi and Tunisia (less than 10% women business ownership share with Saudi Arabia posting the lowest of 1.4%).
The Index further mentioned that some women’s inclination towards business ownership may be undermined by limited access to education and finance, as well as, entrepreneurial opportunities. But these are not challenges of only people in Africa, the Index pointed out, adding that women entrepreneurs in developed nations also face cultural and gender biases that limit them from opening or expanding their own businesses.