Even before there was a pandemic, women-led MSMEs faced more challenges in comparison to their male counterparts. According to the United Nations, 27% of female entrepreneurship rate in Africa is the highest in the world; Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where there are more women than men who become entrepreneurs. Still, most female-led enterprises on the continent are small businesses with few growth opportunities. Female entrepreneurship in Africa is especially hindered by a lack of access to funding, women-owned small businesses find it more difficult to secure financing and investment than their male counterparts.
Since inception, The Tony Elumelu Foundation has directly empowered over 3,000 female entrepreneurs. TEF Alumni have gone to directly create an additional 35,000 jobs for women. Our position is clear and actionable: create an ecosystem where everyone, regardless of their gender benefits from equal opportunity to scale and thrive.
Google.org, shares a similar vision. Earlier this week, we announced a $3Million grant from Google.org to complement the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. 500 additional rural-based aspiring women entrepreneurs will receive seed capital of $5,000. These 500 aspiring African women entrepreneurs will come from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and select Francophone countries. The objective is to increase economic inclusion, improve economies and further empower these rural-based women to lift them from poverty, strengthen their livelihoods and incomes, while creating more decent jobs in the African economy.
Addressing this announcement, our CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu commented, “As Africa’s leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs, this grant support will provide financial and technical support for additional women-owned businesses and marginalized groups in the informal sector through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. There is no better time to invest in women’s economic participation on the continent than now. Through this support, women will drive growth for local economies and enable better living conditions for their communities. We are delighted to disburse the Google.org grant to scale our ongoing work to empower young African entrepreneurs as we believe this will be instrumental in building much-needed businesses and resilient economies”.
This announcement directly correlates with our mission to catalyze economic growth, drive poverty eradication, and ensure job creation in Africa. Selection would prioritise informal businesses, further equipping them with digital skills through TEFConnect, our proprietary digital platform supporting millions of African entrepreneurs with access to free resources for professional development, knowledge sharing opportunities and quality market linkages.
Nitin Gajria, Managing Director of Google Sub-Saharan Africa echoed a dedication to building a world where all women can thrive. Looking at data collected by the World Bank across 10 African countries, he revealed that male-owned enterprises have six times more capital than female owned enterprises. For him, “The huge capital gap is not stopping the rise of female entrepreneurs, but it slows them down and makes their journeys that much more challenging. We hope that the support to The Tony Elumelu Foundation will help accelerate the growth of women tech-makers and entrepreneurs in Africa”.
Today, women-led businesses are disproportionately at risk as a result of the pandemic that has led to economic strife. This is unsurprising, given that they had very limited support to begin with. Female African Entrepreneurs require access to knowledge, skills, tools, and funding in order to navigate the changing operational landscape.
Rowan Barnett, Head of Google.org EMEA, agrees to this. He says, “we support organizations that offer financial and training resources to underserved small business owners to improve their economic livelihoods and create opportunity for themselves, their employees, and their communities. As one of the leading pan-African philanthropies empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, we are delighted to support the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme created to empower, invest in and create opportunities for African entrepreneurs”.