Africa claims the top three spots for highest concentration of women businesses owners in the world – report

  • Africa claimed the top three spots for highest concentration of women businesses owners in the world, according to the 2020 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) report.
  • The fourth edition of Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs examines progress in 58 economies, representing 80%% of the world’s female workforce.
  • Uganda leads MIWE benchmark indicator, whilst Botswana moves into the runner-up spot and Ghana rounds up top three. [Get the full report here]

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 and provides insights on the factors driving and inhibiting their advancement.

Through a unique methodology – drawing on publicly available data from leading international organisations 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 labour force. This consists of 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 worldwide, 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 organisations across Africa and around the world to create safe and accessible digitised payment solutions for female-owned small businesses across Africa,” said Ifeoma Dozie, Director, Marketing and Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard.

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