In 2105 the AfDB published the Africa Gender Equality Index 2015. It reports that of all businesses in Africa (in fact across the globe), women own a third of all businesses. This goes up to 62% in Côte d’Ivoire. This is impressive and sounds like good news for the participation of women in the local economies!
However, of this 1/3, women entrepreneurs are likely to be running micro-enterprises, operating mostly in the informal sector, engaging in low-value-added activities that reap marginal returns. In other words, their “businesses” might better be categorized as “income generating activities”.
Of the formal-sector firms in Africa, only 15% have a female managing director; while 32% have some degree of female ownership. A main distinction among entrepreneurs is whether they are 'survivalists’ vs ‘growth oriented’. More women in Africa thus belong to the group of so-called survival or necessity entrepreneurs.They are the typical persons who start a small business,out of need and not out of choice. Suitable and decent employment opportunities are hard to find, due to the limited basic education women will have enjoyed as young girls and discrimination in the labour market. As a consequence, they often remain in the informal sector, “getting by”. In contrast to them are the so-called growth oriented entrepreneurs, or ‘gazelles’,persons with more education and self esteem, having the aspiration to grow her business, building up smart entrepreneurial skills as they go.
However, entrepreneurship as such does not have a ‘gender’,so what went wrong here? Why is it so that women are less likely to build a solid business? This is what the AfDB writes:.
“ (..) women’s prospects of generating larger earnings are limited by a range of factors — a lack of basic skills, a lack of access to financial services and the challenges of balancing business and domestic obligations.As a result, women entrepreneurs are significantly less likely to employ other workers than male entrepreneurs.”
We can assume that each entrepreneur, male or female, and despite all their differences in business size, location and background, strives for success. Aya wants to build the skills of female agribusiness entrepreneurs; ranging from building the right competencies at individual level to optimizing an enabling environment in which they can build their businesses.