A report released today calls for development policies that help African women entrepreneurs expand their businesses.
The study is entitled "Support for Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs,” and it focuses on Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. It was published in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, by the African Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The report says African businesswomen are playing an ever-increasing role in the continent’s economy.
Gerry Finnegan, the director of the ILO Program on Women Entrepreneurs told Voice of America reporter Ruby Ofori, “What has happened is that …the larger businesses are not creating any new jobs. The public sector and state-owned enterprises have been cutting back on the number of workers for the past two years. Now people are thrown back on their own reserves, and many of them are starting up in businesses on their own.” Mr. Finnegan says around 100,000 women in Kenya and 200,000 women in Ethiopia run small businesses that have the potential to grow and employ more people if they are able to obtain the right support and funding. These businesses range from trading and services to handicrafts, tailoring, small-scale manufacturing and food processing.
Mr. Finnegan says, “The big issue is women who want to grow their businesses have outgrown the micro-credit and micro-finance support. They require more funding than that and the problem is the banks are not in a position where they are willing to deal directly and lend directly to these women. Part of that is based on the cultural bias that has evolved over the years where the banks think of business people as men rather than as men and women.”