Women in Africa are creating opportunities for themselves and giving back to communities and that is what makes women entrepreneurs in Africa different, says Melanie Hawken, Founder of Lionesses of Africa.
Rwanda was recently voted one of the best countries in the world to be a woman and according to the World Bank, almost five years ago, women owned about 48 per cent, nearly half, of all enterprises in Africa – but still they don’t have sufficient access to credit.
“I think this is actually a time for Africa to show the rest of the world what is happening for woman entrepreneurs, having opportunities, creating opportunities – more importantly – I think the interesting thing here in Africa is that women are creating those opportunities for themselves and I think that is a game changer,” said Hawken.
Hawken states that Africa was recently rated as having one of the highest numbers of women entrepreneurs in the world and 25 per cent of women on the continent set up businesses in various sectors.
“Because things are happening, whether you are an entrepreneur or taking a corporate career, it is a good place to be a woman entrepreneur and that is the same across the continent,” she said.
“Where women see that the opportunities don’t exist, they are looking to see what resources are available on the ground and how they can create new businesses, new opportunities, new community projects that will actually have a major impact and I think that is the difference.”
However the lack of gender parity and gender lens funding in numerous sectors on the continent is among the many issues that need to be addressed as we move towards creating a level playing field.
“Gender lens investing is a really a hot topic right now and I think – because access to finance is probably the thing I hear most mentioned by women entrepreneurs – getting access to finance when you’re a woman is tough – I think that is the reality,” said Hawken.
Hawken says women are taking control of that now where they are reinvesting in women – a sort of gender lens investing of their own.