Female Entrepreneurship, Key Ingredient for Africa’s Growth

Africa is a world leader when it comes to female entrepreneurship. For World Bank experts Fannie Delavelle and Léa Rouanet, considering their economic potential could massively contribute to Africa’s growth.

Africa leads the world in terms of the number of women business owners. In fact, women in Africa are more likely than men to be entrepreneurs. Women make up 58% of the continent’s self-employed population. However, a recent World Bank report, Profiting from Parity, shows that women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa continue to earn lower profits than men (34 % less on average).

Female entrepreneurship: not so much a choice as a necessity

Women in Africa are more likely than men to choose entrepreneurship not because they have a burning passion or the right skills, but because of a lack of better opportunities. Wage job opportunities are relatively scarce in Africa and this is even more the case for women who often have lower levels of formal education and may face discrimination in hiring practices. Additionally, women tend to be given most of the responsibility for home-based work, including childcare, so small-scale home-based businesses may be one of the few ways they can generate an income to help cover the needs of their families.

This is a missed opportunity. When you consider that Africa is now a world leader in women business owners, you can see that unlocking their potential can make a huge contribution to the continent’s growth and prosperity. If we can level the playing field for women’s businesses, if we can help them grow, African economies will grow. Empowering women entrepreneurs is simply smart economics.

Promoting female entrepreneurs in male-dominated sectors

In this context, partnering with the private sector to leverage synergies should be a key element of efforts to create greater opportunities for Africa’s hardworking women entrepreneurs, with three important approaches that should be adopted.

First, we need to target the underlying constraints related to social norms that are holding women back, such as the uneven burden of childcare and social norms that tend to push women into less profitable sectors. For example, findings from Ethiopia and Uganda pointed to sectoral segregation as an important determinant of the gender earnings gap in entrepreneurship. In Uganda for example, the average monthly profit in the female-dominated saloons sector is just USD 86, while those in the male-dominated electrical sectors enjoy average monthly profits of USD 371. Similarly, the Profiting from Parity report’s analysis finds that one-quarter of the gender gap in profits in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be explained by the fact that women operate in comparatively less profitable sectors. This lines up with a recent Gender Innovation Lab study of people with a Facebook business page, which captures businesses in 97 countries across 4 continents, that finds a hierarchy of earnings globally whereby men in male-dominated sectors are the top earners – earning a global average of 116 % more than women-owned firms in female-dominated sectors-, women in male-dominated sectors and men in female-concentrated sectors are in the middle tier, and women in female-concentrated sectors earn the least. Interestingly, all three studies indicate that women’s choice of the sector does not seem to be driven by the factors we may expect, like education or access to capital. Instead, exposure to male-dominated sectors through male mentors, training, or work experience, and access to information on the difference in earnings available across different sectors all appear to be important determinants of sector choice. The private sector can be a key actor in encouraging women to crossover, for example through initiatives with incubators as well as the development of intra-firm programs.

Teaching female entrepreneurs appropriate skills

Second, we need to think outside the box. While most African countries have achieved gender parity in access to primary education, a persistent gap in educational and skill attainment between male and female entrepreneurs – particularly at the secondary level and beyond – may help explain gender differences in strategic business decisions. Self-employed women have overall completed fewer years of education than self-employed men, and male entrepreneurs often have higher technical skills. However, the Profiting from Parity report shows that training programs providing traditional business skills to women entrepreneurs have had disappointing impacts on firm profits. New evidence suggests that we may simply be teaching the wrong skills. Rather than teaching traditional business skills like accounting, there is promising evidence that socio-emotional skills, such as personal initiative and perseverance, matter more.

In Togo, a training that taught small entrepreneurs to show initiative, be proactive and demonstrate perseverance yielded impressive results: women who took this training saw a 40 % average increase in their profits, compared to no significant increase for those taking traditional business training. One example of this is a female entrepreneur in Togo who, prior to the training, rented wedding dresses. After receiving the personal initiative training, she decided to expand her clientele by selling dresses and offering such accessories as veils and gloves. She now owns boutiques in three African countries. This ‘Personal Initiative’ training has now been replicated in multiple contexts across two continents, with positive results. Through private sector partnerships, such trainings could be scaled up throughout the continent, both within larger firms as well as in the entrepreneurial community.

Low-cost and simple tweaks for female entrepreneurship

Third, we must ensure that interventions are scalable. The World Bank has shown that low-cost, simple tweaks in project design can have a large impact on women’s empowerment. For instance, in Malawi, we found that encouraging women to register their firms did not have an impact on their profits. Yet, by combining help with registration with a simple information session at a bank and a business bank account, women significantly increased their use of a range of formal financial services, resulting in increases in profits of 20 %. And this can be done at a cost of only $27 per firm. This is important in the context of sub-Saharan Africa, where only 27 % of women have an account at a financial institution.

Another interesting example of successful partnerships with the private sector to empower women entrepreneurs is the case of psychometrics. The problem of women’s limited access to capital can be counteracted in two ways: by giving women more control over assets through, for example, the granting of joint property rights (as is the case in Rwanda), or by getting around the collateral constraint altogether. Through a partnership with the private sector, the World Bank introduced innovative psychometric tests in Ethiopia as an alternative to collateral. These tests predict the likelihood that an entrepreneur will repay a loan with accuracy, yielding a 99 % repayment rate. Such innovative technologies benefit entrepreneurs like Abeba from the Amhara region of Ethiopia who owns a bakery and who, for more than 10 years, was able to obtain only group loans capped at 900 euros. Through psychometric testing, she was able to obtain an individual loan, expand her business, and diversify her income.

Female entrepreneurship at the heart of development policies

Enterprise development is a crucial engine of economic growth and job creation. Without entrepreneurship, there would be little innovation, little productivity growth, and few new jobs. Increasingly, national government leaders and other stakeholders across Africa are recognizing that women are a force for growth – but could be even more so. Bridging gender gaps requires identifying and implementing programs and policies that target the specific constraints that women entrepreneurs face. This blog shows that there are targeted interventions that are simple, affordable, and most importantly high impact. Knowing that more than half of entrepreneurs in Africa are women, advancing gender equality is smart economics, sound business practice, and essential development policy.

Source: https://ideas4development.org/en/

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Nicoleta Acatrinei 2

Dr. Nicoleta Acatrinei

Head, Diaspora (Europe)

Dr. Nicoleta Acatrinei, is the head of our Research and Development, Swiss Impact Investment Association (SIIA). She is a distinguished economist whose journey began in the world of banking but soon transcended traditional boundaries. Her expertise ranges from public policies, sustainable finance, and development to anthropology, moral decision-making, work psychology, theology, and digital transformation. She has authored books, book chapters and journal articles, including Saint John Chrysostom and Homo Oeconomicus (2008); Let’s talk about money, let’s talk about human nature (2007); The determinants of work motivation in the delivery of public services: the case of the Swiss education sector (2015); and Perspectives of Saint John Chrysostom for the VUCA world. An integrative mindfulness program to cope with managerial challenges in a VUCA world , and most recently “The Human Nature of Homo Oeconomicus: An Anthropological Investigation in the Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom, in Studia Patristica ( 2021), vol. 25, pp. 255-268.

In 2014, Dr. Acatrinei earned her Ph.D. from the prestigious Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP), Switzerland.

She spearheads initiatives that define the future of work at the crossroads of faith, well-being, and digital transformation, while also guiding the formulation of public policies that drive sustainable development, SDGs, and social impact economic activities. Her impact reverberates globally, as evidenced by her esteemed Doctorate Honoris Causa bestowed by RAI University in New Delhi for her outstanding work on economics and sustainable development in December 2022.

Rita Namakikia

Rita Namakiika Nangono

Legal Advisor

Rita Namakiika Nangono is a Founding Partner of N&N Advocates, Fully fledged commercial Law firm and has a career spanning over 15 years and she is a seasoned law practitioner with extensive experience in Insurance law, Corporate & Commercial law (including proficiency in joint ventures and other forms of domestic and foreign investments, Immigration and Employment Law, Corporate Governance).

Rita is a specially trained trial advocacy lawyer with a certificate in Trial Advocacy by Justice Advocacy Africa in conjunction with Uganda Law Society. She can competently handle all civil and criminal litigation in all courts in Uganda.

Other Board Positions include Chairperson – INSURANCE APPEALS TRIBUNAL, Board member and Chairperson HR Committee – PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND DISPOSAL OF ASSETS AUTHORITY (PPDA), Member Education and Training Committee – INSTITUTE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, Board Chairperson – MINERVA REINSURANCE BROKERS LIMITED and Immediate Past Hon. Secretary (2020-2022) – UGANDA LAW SOCIETY

Rita holds a Bachelor of Laws from, Makerere University, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre, Kampala. She is a member of the Uganda Law Society, East Africa Law Society and Commonwealth Lawyers Association.

In 2016, Rita was recognized among the top 40 women under 40 in Uganda for excellence and influence in her field.

Dr Anire Okogun-2

Dr Anire Okogun

Legal Advisor

Dr Anire Okogun, is a lawyer, and Managing partner of Chanelle Solicitors, she was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1991, and holds a Doctorate Degree, from Colorado Technical University in Denver Colorado. She is a serial Entrepreneur With Over 33 years post graduate Experience. Her passion for women and youth Advocacy led her to the Board of PIND foundation, a foundation established by Chevron Nigeria to Develop women and youth for self-sustainability in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria

She is the founder and pioneer Managing Director of Chanelle Microfinance Bank , in Nigeria. Under her watch over 30,000 women and youth were empowered for self-sustainability and financial Independence from 2008 to 2020 ,through Micro, Small and Medium Loans schemes

Dr Anire Okogun established Chanelle Foundation in 2009, to help woman and youth build skills as a tool for Empowerment. Since establishment, over 2000 women and youth have benefitted from their various projects. She sits on the Board of several companies and a member of the International Federation of women lawyers (FIDA) a professional advocacy group protecting the rights and dignity of women and youth

Dr Okogun has attended both local and international courses which includes the Harvard Business school. Dr Okogun is passionate about women and youth Empowerment and has taken her advocacy to several countries championing the rights of women and the girl child.

Pauline Warui

Pauline Warui

Head of Trade

Pauline Warui is the founder of East Africa Customer Care Centre Ltd a company she founded in January 2016 to improve the training and execution of customer experience in businesses.

She has been instrumental in shaping commercial and customer experience teams in Kenyan Companies through leadership, training and consultancy. She is a renowned business leader with over 20 years’ experience, in the leading Telecommunications organizations; the Oil and Insurance sector. She has worked with Capital Pagers, Kencell Telecommunications and Chevron Global at Senior and Executive levels. She also worked at Safaricom as Director, Customer Care where she played a critical role in setting-up Safaricom’s contact centre; the biggest of its kind in East and Central Africa.

She is also Country Head of Commonwealth Business Women in Kenya having served as Vice Chair previously.. She is also a director at Kline Insurance Agency where she is in charge of the commercial portfolio and board member of Muruguru Girls Secondary School, a school in the rural county of Nyeri in Kenya.

Meklit Abdella - Head Advocacy

Mrs. Meklit Abdella

Head of Advocacy

Mrs. Meklit Abdella is a women entrepreneur and Data Scientist with nearly 15 years of international experience. She has worked with global organizations such as the United Nations and global brands, gaining valuable expertise in various fields. As the Co-founder and Managing Director of Queen Nyabinghi LTD in Rwanda and Meklit Technologies in Ethiopia, Meklit has been instrumental in numerous investment and business projects across Africa, including Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

At Queen Nyabinghi LTD Rwanda, Meklit’s company focuses on exporting and adding value to agricultural and mineral products. Additionally, the firm serves as an investment consulting agency, offering comprehensive pre-investment and after-care services to individual investors, trusts, and international financial service providers.

Meklit is driven by her passion for creating positive change in people’s lives through education and human-centric solutions. She envisions making significant contributions to the ongoing development of the African continent. Empowering women and girls across Africa is a cause particularly close to her heart. Meklit’s deep-rooted commitment to Pan-Africanism is evident in her efforts to celebrate the continent’s rich heritage and promote its progress.


Aisha Ibrahim Qumrudin

Head of Projects

Aisha is an Economist by Education. She is a mother of two brilliant daughters. She is a seasoned Human Resource Professional. She is a serial Entrepreneur with a fully E-Commerce Direct Selling Company that has a market reach of over 120 countries and a diverse range of over 300 products. She is a dedicated advocate for global success. Aisha firmly believes in the transformative power of education and mentorship. As an entrepreneur, she is constantly seeking innovative ways to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape. Aisha is passionate about creating a positive impact and is committed to leading by example in both her professional and personal endeavors.

Through her work, Aisha is committed to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for individuals to thrive in the global marketplace. She is a strong proponent of creating a more inclusive and diverse business environment, where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Aisha is driven by a deep sense of purpose and is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others.

At the core of Aisha’s mission is the empowerment of individuals to embrace their potential and achieve their dreams. She firmly believes in the power of collaboration and is dedicated to creating a brighter future for all. With her relentless drive and passion for empowering others, Aisha is unwavering in her commitment to making a lasting impact on the world.

Dorothy Liech

Dorothy “Dottie” Liech

Head of Fundraising & Partnerships

Dottie is a highly accomplished professional with a diverse range of  experience and expertise. As the Africa Regional Director and Head of Communication at the Nordic Global Investment Foundation, she is crucial in promoting the African development agenda. Dorothy’s extensive career spans over a decade, during which she has  gained a deep understanding of political economics and entrepreneurship.  She has been instrumental in the successful transition of Kenya’s  Devolution system of county governments and has developed a wealth of  global engagements. With her expertise in trade-related issues, she is a  force to be reckoned with in the international business


In addition to her professional pursuits, Dorothy is a visionary entrepreneur  passionate about empowering women and youth. She is the founder of  Dowan International Foundation, which focuses on women and youth  entrepreneurial education in Africa. She also runs Premier Plan Agency, an  award-winning consultancy specializing in travel logistics, resource  mobilization, and PR. Furthermore, she leads Fashion with a Purpose, a CSR arm that fundraises for education, medical camps, and other charitable  causes through fashion events. Dorothy’s dedication and drive have earned her numerous accolades and  recognition. She is a recipient of the prestigious Presidential or Duke of  Edinburgh’s International Award in Kenya and has been awarded the Most Impactful Female Entrepreneur Award by Women in Business Kenya. She  is also a current nominee for the African Humanitarian Ambassador of the  Year Award.

Enyidiya Uwa Ojike

Enyidiya Uwa Ojike

Head of Finance

Enyidiya Uwa Ojike is the Co-founder and CEO of OVAC Group, an international consultancy based in the United Kingdom and Nigeria that offers pragmatic financial advisory and project management solutions, a Certified Consultant in Banking, Finance and Allied Matters (CIBN), a Certified Wealth Management and Financial Planner (CFI), the MD/CEO of EFB Industries Limited (a wholly owned palm oil processing company located in Abia State).

She has over 20 years’ experience in the Financial Services Industry which includes Retail, Branch, Corporate, Institutional and Microfinance Banking. She is skilled in Business Planning, Financial Planning, Financial Analysis, Banking, Accounting, Credit Risk, and Portfolio Management.

She holds a B.Sc. Degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MBA from Lagos Business School (LBS). She is an Associate of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), a member of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), the Financial Secretary of CBW-Africa Nigeria Chapter, the Head of Finance of Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBW-Africa) and a Director of Ohafia Microfinance Bank Plc.


Nana Wanjau

Vice President

Nana Wanjau, is the 2022 Woman With a Mission Recognition and Achievement Award winner. She is the Global Women in Leadership Awards 2022 winner, She is East Africa
Woman Leadership Award 2019 winner. She is the 8th of All African Business Leaders Award
(AABLA) winner, she is the Philanthropist of the year EA Award winner and she is the
Harmony Institute Philanthropy Award winner.
Nana is an impact Pan African Leader.
Nana is the Administrative Director for Eastern, Central & Southern African Regions for Commonwealth Women Network (CWN); a Commonwealth Accredited Organisation. She is the Vice President of Commonwealth Business Women – Africa, an affiliate of CWN.
The Pan African Chamber of Commerce recently appointed Nana Wanjau to head the Chief Gender Office for Africa.

Her role will involve mainstreaming gender in the Pan African Chamber of Commerce programs and operations. She is instrumental in the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurship Centres across Africa.
Nana is passionate about women empowerment through social and economic
advancement; She is the Founder of PowerWoman International; they build homes for Ostracized Widows: No woman should lose her dignity nor rights because she lost her husband. Widows are
supported through four pillars; Shelter, Counselling, Economic Empowerment and
Education for children.
Nana sits on numerous board, including the Advisory Board of the Centre for Research on African Digital Policies and Innovations (CRADPI); headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa.
Nana is a long term mentor in the Global Give Back Circle mentoring the next leaders from the Mastercard Foundation Programs.
Nana Wanjau is the Past President of the Rotary Club of Nairobi East.
@ She is an Alumni of the Strathmore Business School and Lagos Business School.
@ She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program: Harvard Leadership Principles/Strategy Execution and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies with a focus on Africa.
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nana-wanjau-a-pan-african-leader-99a26037/recent-activity/all/

Mrs Ngozi Oyewole.

Ngozi Oyewole M.CIoD FITD


Mrs. Ngozi Oyewole is a highly accomplished entrepreneur and leader with over 20 years of experience in business management and strategic planning. She is the founder of Noxie Limited, specializing in furniture production and personal protective equipment, she has a background in Business Administration and is a certified Interior Designer. An alumna of SAID Business School and University of Oxford, UK. She is a passionate advocate for women’s inclusion in business and holds the position of President at Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBW-Africa). Her global recognitions stem from her work in women’s leadership, business sustainability, and energy transition.

Her achievements encapsulates various strata of human endeavour and notable mention will be made of a few of them

1) The Board Chair/President and Founder of Strategic Women and Youth Institute (SWYI)
2) Council Member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)
3) Current Chairperson of the Wood & Wood Products/Furniture Sectoral Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)
4) The former Vice Chairperson of Commonwealth Business Women Network (CBWN), Nigeria
5) A 2019 award recipient of an Exceptional Leader of Excellence from the Women Economic Forum (WEF) and All Ladies League.
6) One of the 32 Women Amplifying the Voices of African Leadership -2022
7) Nominated in 2015 by Forbes Magazine as one of the leading entrepreneurs in Africa Championing Business Sustainability and Women Inclusion
8) Business Woman of the year Nigeria from Women in Management, Top 50 Global Awards, Sri Lanka – 2022
9) A Vital Voices Fellow

Beyond her professional pursuits, she is dedicated to philanthropy, supports widows, empowers young women, and is involved in initiatives for the less privileged.

Remmie Male

Remmie Male

Continental Executive Secretary

Remmie Male is the Continatal Secretary Commonwealth Business Women Africa, Founder/Executive Director CBW-Africa Uganda Chapter. Remmie Male is an author of Gangos, a multi-talented serial entrepreneur in the fields of writing, business incubation, mentorship training, motivational speaking, and executive coaching. She is the founder and executive director of Women of Valor Foundation plus Jamboree et Rendezvous, as well as the Vision Bearer of Beauty For Ashes and Tender Warriors Ministries.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Makerere University, Remmie has utilized her expertise as the founder of Jamboree et Rendezvous, an events management and PR firm. Through this venture, she has been involved in projects involving fundraising, profile raising, and community empowerment of her client’s companies, with a focus on economic empowerment, harmony, prosperity, and general well-being of the people in her community. She is the country Director Pivoting in heels an African platform that profiles leading women in Africa and compiles them in a coffee table book per country with the Lady running state house writing the forward.

As the proprietor of Women of Valor Foundation, Remmie is dedicated to economically empowering women and youth through mentorship, executive coaching, business training, and entrepreneurship trainings. Her foundation has made significant impacts on individuals and communities, providing the necessary tools and guidance for them to thrive. 

In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, Remmie is also an author.

Her book, Gango, delves into the power of networks and how they impact our net worth. It also provides valuable advice and inspiration from powerful women worldwide, sharing their tips and philosophies on succeeding in business. Remmie’s contributions have been recognized internationally. She was honored as one of the 60 global community leaders for 2011 by the State