A new report states that Uganda, Ghana, and Botswana are the top 3 countries that have the highest percentages of women-owned businesses. The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) for 2019 evaluated and researched 58 markets around the world to reach the conclusion that the 3 African countries are the best in the world when it comes to the number of women-owned businesses as compared to the total amount of businesses in each country.

In its third edition, the report by Mastercard is based on publicly available data from international organizations including the International Labour Organization, UNESCO and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the global Index tracks the progress and achievements of women entrepreneurs and business owners at three levels: (i) Women’s Advancement Outcomes, (ii) Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and (iii) Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors.

“Women entrepreneurs continue to have a direct impact on economic growth and the wellbeing of society. In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, women continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to supporting their communities through entrepreneurship. But to unlock the full potential of the African continent, we must continue to foster an entrepreneurship ecosystem for women that helps them to overcome barriers – whether cultural, legal, social or traditional,” said Beatrice Cornacchia, Mastercard’s Head of Marketing and Communications for the Middle East and Africa.

Women business owners as a percentage of total business owners.

The role of technology and women's participation in technology businesses

One of the interesting points that the report highlights is that when comapring men and women in the various countries, there is a "disparity in access to the Internet & Technology." Meaning that, women generally have limited access to both and in some cases this hampers their business efforts.

This, as the report elaborates, can also be witnessed in the fact that there is a very low percentage of women venturing into IT related businesses (3.9% compared to 11.5% for men). However, women are reported to be nearly  as  likely  as  men  to  adopt  new  technology  in  their  businesses:  8.9%  compared  to  10.3%  for  men.

The results reaffirmed that women are able to make further business inroads and have higher labour force participation rates in open and vibrant markets where the support for SMEs and ease of doing business are high. They are also able to draw from enabling resources, including access to capital, financial services and academic programs.

Africa business insights

Another key insight from the report is how women are achieving gender parity with men in terms of entrepreneurial activity in several markets across Africa including Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.  

Below are some more key insights from the report as far as Africa is concerned.

  • Nigeria had the second highest proportion of women in professional/technician roles among the 58 markets surveyed, and an exceptionally high percentage of females as entrepreneurs. Specifically, nearly four in every 10 working age women are engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity (40.7% compared to 39% for men).
  • South Africa was one of the top scoring nations when it came to women having equal access to tertiary education, and it also scores higher than its African counterparts with regards to financial inclusion (86%) compared with men.
  • The findings also highlighted women’s abilities to thrive as business owners and pursue opportunities. According to the World Bank, 45% of economies around the globe have laws constraining women’s decision to join and remain in the labour force.
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