The 2020 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) has once again ranked Uganda (39.6%), Botswana (38.5%) and Ghana (36.5%) as the world’s three leading economies having the most women business owners.
The Index’s benchmark indicator is calculated as a percentage of total businesses owners, and all three countries have grown their percentages since last year (2019).
Now in its fourth year, the MIWE highlights the vast socio-economic contribution of women entrepreneurs around the world, as well as provides insights on the factors driving and inhibiting their advancement.
Through a unique methodology – drawing on publicly available data from leading international organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International Labour Organization – MIWE 2020 includes a global ranking of the advancement of women in business in pre-pandemic conditions across 58 economies representing almost 80% of the global female labor force. This includes eight countries across Sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda).
All but one (Botswana) of the Sub-Saharan African countries captured in the report showed improved MIWE scores since the last edition. South Africa displayed the biggest growth with a 7% increase from [60.2 score to 64.4]. Botswana however has also grown the number of women entrepreneurs since last year (36% in 2019 to 38.5% in 2020), earning the country the second spot globally and displacing Ghana who now comes in third.
The results also point to a strong representation of women business owners in Malawi, Angola and Nigeria, despite the economic and social challenges facing their entrepreneurial ecosystems. According to the report, the high scores are spurred by a low fear of business failure, an absence of alternative income sources, and an eager commitment to contribute to their communities. The report demonstrates that a high regard for risk taking, innovativeness, individuality and creativeness in entrepreneurship is prevalent in Uganda, Nigeria and Angola.
The report also notes the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women entrepreneurs around the world, with 87% saying they have been adversely affected. Overrepresentation in sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn, the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities are only a few factors that have left women particularly vulnerable.
In Ghana, for instance, a sectoral breakdown reveals that a large proportion of women-owned businesses (85.1%) operate in highly impacted sectors compared to 50.5% for men. In Uganda, 61% of women-led small businesses failed to generate income even as lockdown measures were eased.
“Our findings beckon us to consider the cost of untapped potential in women as contributors, not just in business and society, but on the national and global scale, as we chart the path of post Covid-19 recovery across Africa. This is especially important as more women owned businesses will likely be impacted by the pandemic making the support through incentives, necessary tools, mentorship and digital inclusion platforms even more urgent. At Mastercard, we continue to partner with leading organizations across Africa and around the world to create safe and accessible digitized payment solutions for female owned small businesses across Africa,” said Ifeoma Dozie, Director, Marketing and Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard.
Despite the obvious challenges, the report highlights a number of opportunities for women in the COVID-19 era, particularly in online shopping and digital commerce. These have been supported by Mastercard research. A recent Mastercard study revealed the exponential growth of e-commerce in Africa – with 81% of people surveyed in Nigeria, 72% in Tanzania, 68% in Ivory Coast, and 79% in both Kenya and Ghana saying they have been shopping more online since the pandemic began.
As the pandemic presents new business opportunities for women, especially in terms of online shopping and services, ensuring access to technology or digital solutions, affordable data and modern trade resources will empower more women to succeed in business.
The MIWE report is just one component in Mastercard’s broader mission to advance female entrepreneurs and small businesses. In 2020, Mastercard expanded its worldwide financial inclusion commitment, pledging to bring a total of one billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses, through a range of initiatives crossing funding, mentoring and the development of inclusive technologies.
Africa Fintech Foundry Seeks Tech Entrepreneurs For 2021 Accelerator Programme
Africa’s foremost innovation hub, the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), has opened up its registration portal for the 2021 Accelerator programme that will groom technology entrepreneurs and startups.
The initiative, which is being executed in partnership with Access Bank Plc, seeks to fast-track the growth of the best start-ups operating within the African technology ecosystem.
Start-ups to be considered for admission into the programme include those that: have a tech-enabled solution; offer a unique solution or unique application in a regional setting; have a cross-functional team with a deep understanding of the market – which includes technical lead(s) and founder(s) that are fully committed to the business; have a defensible position (IP; network effects; domain or region expertise); have been in operations for at least 6 months, amongst others.
The Accelerator programme will fast track and assist the selected start-ups to navigate issues such as start-up pricing and competitiveness, creating endearing customer experiences, support and retention, hiring and people management, scaling for growth and product development cycle fundamentals amongst others.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the head of the Africa Fintech Foundry, Daniel Awe, said, “Research has shown that 90 per cent of start-ups fail due to various reasons such as lack of funding, being in the wrong market, a lack of research, mis-aligned partnerships, ineffective marketing and poor competitive positioning to name a few.
“Ninety per cent is a high percentage rate of failure. This indicates that many things need to go right for a business to succeed. Enabling start-ups to grow, scale and remain relevant in the tech space is where we play a major role as AFF.”
“Since its establishment, the Africa Fintech Foundry has progressively demonstrated leadership in the areas of innovation, financial technology and entrepreneurship. We recognise the vast array of talent possessed by Africans and the wider global players and the immense potential that our technological start-ups have.
Hence, through the Accelerator programme, we will be providing cohorts with mentorship and clinic hours from leading entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts. They will also get access to funding, unrivalled business insights, access to markets and networking opportunities with our partners at various stages of the program,” he said.
The AFF Accelerator programme will span 12 weeks, with formal and informal mentorship from established founders, investors and pioneers across various industries.
Access Bank’s Executive Director for Information Technology and Operations, Ade Bajomo, highlighted the need for increased corporate investment in tech-focused capacity building initiatives.
He said “Technology can serve as the catalyst for solving many of the problems faced across various industries. We also believe that it holds the potential to resolve social and economic challenges faced across the African continent.
“Therefore, as Africa’s gateway to the world, we have partnered the continent’s leading accelerator, the Africa Fintech Foundry, to create a platform that will nurture the brightest minds, providing them the needed resources to develop and scale their projects, to the benefit of all,” he added.
Interested participants can visit www.africafintechfoundry.com for more information. Those who meet the required criteria will be required to fill an online application. Entry deadline has been disclosed as Saturday, 31 January 2020.
UK-Nigeria Tech Hub Unveils Virtual Capacity Building Programmes
The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub has launched amongst others two virtual programmes- the Design School Programme for aspiring product designers seeking to start a career in tech and the Future Females Business School programme for early-stage female entrepreneurs with tech-enabled businesses in Nigeria.
The Design School programme will run for two months and will provide an opportunity for 30 aspiring product designers to undergo an intensive training to equip them with necessary digital and product design skills. Application closes on January 25th 2021 and interested persons can apply using this link- http://bit.ly/DufunaDesignSchool
The Future Females Business programme is targeted at providing 100 early-stage female entrepreneurs with tech-enabled business in Nigeria an opportunity to upskill and gain digital skills aimed at bringing their business to life. The programme will run for 3 months and will include 10 modules, masterclasses, coaching sessions and guest features of industry experts in Nigeria. Applications closes on January 25th 2021 and interested persons can apply using this link- https://futurefemales.typeform.com/to/zGzqkKbV
While encouraging interested applicants to apply, the Country Director of the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, Honey Ogundeyi said: “These programmes will help promote gender inclusive economic growth as well as upgrade digital skills in Nigeria thereby developing the tech-ecosystem.”
Nigerian Entrepreneurs, Others Jostle for $2m JUA Kickstarter Fund
Entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Entrepreneurs from Ghana, Tanzania, Benin, Namibia and eSwatini have led the application for the $2 million JUA Kickstarter Fund.
The JUA Kickstarter Fund will provide African entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises. It has doubled to $2 million to become the biggest African capital venture fund launched by private individuals.
The fund was launched by African industrialist Adam Molai in November last year with $1million available for African entrepreneurs. A further $1million has since been pledged by US-based angel investing and mentorship firm Simba Global Start-ups – bringing the total investment amount available to $2 million.
Announcing the additional funding, Molai says the added capital will allow the fund to make bigger investments in enterprises as well as fund more businesses. “Simba Global Start-ups has pledged to match, like-for-like, our contributions which is absolutely incredible.
“This is an example of how Africans can work together to solve the challenges facing the continent. As an African entrepreneur who has experienced the grueling journey of establishing businesses, I firmly believe that Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of Africans.
“It is not foreign investment that will provide us with a seat at the global table, but domestic investment. This is a view that is shared by Simba, which we will now use to benefit the African entrepreneurs and start-ups who are growing economies across Africa and creating jobs,” he says.
JUA [sunrise in KiSwahili] will provide successful applicants with funds – to launch or grow their businesses – as well as mentoring and guidance. Entrepreneurs from across Africa or those who operate in Africa are eligible to apply.
The entire application process is electronic and funds are expected to be disbursed to successful applicants within 12 weeks of their shortlisting, in a first for Africa. Applications close on 31 January 2021.
Simba’s founder and CEO, Dr. Philippe Kisunzu says: “Born in the DRC, I am a child of the continent who grew up experiencing the atrocities of its civil wars. These intense challenges nurtured within me a vision for prosperity and hope for the people in my village and community. My deepest belief is that this vision is best attained when entrepreneurs create jobs which are scalable, sustainable, inclusive and profitable. With a JUA-SIMBA investing partnership, I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play an active role in making this dream a reality.”
He says Simba’s vision in investing in Africa’s future was not only to create jobs and strengthen African economies, but also to enable Africa to become the “financial benchmark for the world in the 21st century.”
“As a result of our JUA-SIMBA partnership, we hope to expand our vision exponentially on behalf of Sub Saharan African indigenous entrepreneurs who will not only create jobs for the citizens in the region, but also provide financial security for themselves and their families. With JUA-SIMBA partnership, we look to optimise our synergies to produce a combined societal impact greater than the sum of our individual societal impacts.
“Our deepest desire is that through our SIMBA Vision 2035, the most robust of the combined portfolio of startups/companies would have earned the rights to be publicly traded on platforms such as the NASDAQ or the NYSE by the year 2035, placing themselves in an enviable position to create wealth in Africa for Africans, by attracting angel investors and venture capitalists from all over the world, and thus making Africa a global economic powerhouse,” says Kisunzu.
In the two months since its launch, JUA has received over 500 applicants from across Africa. Most of the applications have come from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Entrepreneurs from Ghana, Tanzania, Benin, Namibia and eSwatini have also applied.
Entrepreneurs in need of capital for their ideas or those who are looking to expand their enterprises are encouraged to apply. “We are looking to help African entrepreneurs grow or launch their businesses. Our priority is businesses with impact in terms of job creation and scalability across the continent.
“Obviously, entrepreneurs with proven businesses, solid business pedigree and who have clearly articulated their business propositions, target market, channels or those with innovative solutions to Africa’s many challenges stand a much better chance of being successful. I encourage all aspiring entrepreneurs in need of funding to ensure that they have interrogated, analysed and stress-tested their ideas to stand a better chance of success,” says Molai.
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