Economic Opportunities for African Women

A developing economy will find more success when all members of society are able to contribute. This is a fact many African countries are learning as some allow women to enter the workforce. According to the IMF’s Women, Work and the Economy research, when a local business in Chad allowed women to participate in a business development project, the women increased their annual income by approximately 70%. This was part of a project funded by ExxonMobil and partnered with Africare. Chad experienced first hand the contribution women can make to local economies.

You can learn more about local programs such as this in this video about the Training and Mentoring Program for Women Led Business in Liberia, South Africa, DRC, Mozambique, Senegal and Rwanda.

Women trying to enter the workforce face a multitude of problems. Beginning a business usually requires financial capital. For women who have not had the same educational opportunities as men, it can be hard to understand financial terminology or comprehend how lending services work. Credit can be difficult to achieve when you don’t have financial literacy. Many banks will not lend to women for these reasons and more. For example, in South Africa, “only one out of South Africa’s four major banks is contemplating a specific program to increase its share of women-owned enterprises.”

fides_02While there are many different public and private financing options, most women don’t know how to access different funding opportunities. These require knowledge of the business world, and with no previous exposure, can be hard for women to find. According to the IMF, women also have less financial confidence than men. No confidence means women might not ask for help or might not even attempt to find financial options because they do not believe in their own abilities.

Many financial gains can be made when women are allowed to enter the economy. The IMF says that women are “more likely than men to invest a large proportion of their household income in the education of their children.” This means future generations are less likely to grow up in poverty and have better resources at their disposal. Research shows “GDP per capita losses attributable to gender gaps in the labor market have been estimated at
up to 27 percent in certain regions.” When women can contribute to the economy, GDP grows, further helping advance developing countries markets.



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