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African countries with the highest percentage of women business owners

Mastercard’s annual Index of Women in Entrepreneurs (MIWE) provides invaluable insights into the progress and achievements of women in business and brings to the forefront the broad set of variables propelling the fast rate of female entrepreneurship globally.

In its third year the Mastercard annual Index of Women in Entrepreneurs (MIWE) is challenging perceptions that lay bare the necessity‐driven entrepreneurial activities which has led to a surge in female entrepreneurs in markets such as Uganda, Ghana and Botswana. According to the report, these markets have more women in business as a percentage of all business owners than any developed market.

The index spans 58 markets and represents nearly 80 percent of the world’s female labour force. It uses three main factors to examine these economies; Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Knowledge Assets & Financial Access and Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions.

It also examines the social and cultural aspects that would affect success such as fear of failure, how society perceives entrepreneurial failure and risk taking, gender discrimination, lack of confidence, poor mentorship and networking support.

Overall the index highlighted the following African countries: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda

It was noted that in seven markets women have achieved gender equality in entrepreneurial activity meaning they are just as inclined as men to engage in entrepreneurship. These markets include Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.

Read: Nigeria: How youth entrepreneurship programmes reduce unemployment

Markets in Uganda, Malawi, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Algeria were stated to have less enabling conditions  for  women  to  advance  as  entrepreneurs, business  leaders  and professionals because of restraining  social  barriers  that  make  women  entrepreneurs  less accepted/regarded  in  society; restrictive  financial  barriers  that  prevent  women  from  obtaining  funding  for  business start-ups due to lack of collateral; and biased economic systems whereby women are side lined in the workplace.

There were however anomalies and outliers where women’s advancement as business owners/entrepreneurs are way ahead of their global and regional peers. In Uganda, Malawi, Angola, Ghana, Botswana and Nigeria women appear to thrive in the business world in spite of weaker supportive entrepreneurial conditions, and less knowledge assets and financial access.

Angola, the newest market added to the MIWE, demonstrated unique traits whereby women’s business ownership rates and women’s entrepreneurial activity rates are ranked very highly despite lagging markedly in Knowledge Assets & Financial Access and Entrepreneurial Supportive Factors. In addition, women’s labour force participation rate is nearly at par with men.

Despite being ranked very low in the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019, largely due to inhibitive factors these African countries are positioned among the top 10 globally in terms of Women’s Business Ownership rates; Uganda (38.2%, rank 1), Ghana (37.9%, rank 2), Botswana (36.0%, rank 3), Malawi (31.1%, rank 7) and Angola (30.3%, rank 9). In the leading markets of Uganda and Ghana, nearly 4 in every 10 business owners are female.

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