Africa has tremendous potential for economic growth and development, but this potential can only be fully realized if we invest in the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs. As a continent, we must recognize the critical role that women play in driving economic growth and development. A research conducted by She Leads Africa (SLA) shows that investing in women entrepreneurs has significant multiplier effects, creating jobs, increasing household incomes, and boosting GDP.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation has been at the forefront of championing women’s economic inclusion across Afr. Through its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme, the Foundation has supported over 18,000 African entrepreneurs, of which more than 7,000 are women. These entrepreneurs are creating jobs, driving innovation, and transforming communities across the continent.
However, we must do more.
The World Bank estimates that Africa has the largest gender gap in the world, with women owning just one-third of formal businesses. This represents a significant untapped potential for economic growth on the continent. There are several ways we can invest in women entrepreneurs in Africa. First, we must increase inclusive access to finance. Women entrepreneurs face significant barriers to accessing finance, including lack of collateral and limited financial literacy. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has already taken steps to address this by providing seed funding to young African men and women entrepreneurs through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme . However, we need more investment in these women entrepreneurs from private, public, and developmental organisations.
Secondly, we must provide our women entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. This includes training in financial management, marketing, business strategy etc. Through The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, over 1.5 million Africans have had access to our global mentor guild and our Enterprise Development Toolkit on www.TEFConnect.com. Still, we need to scale up these efforts and ensure that more African women entrepreneurs have access to training and mentorship.
Additionally, we must address the cultural and societal barriers that prevent African women from starting and growing successful businesses by addressing gender-based violence, promoting equal access to education, and changing cultural norms around women’s roles in society.
Over the years, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has partnered with several organizations such as the European Union (EU), Google, and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), to solely empower women entrepreneurs in Africa, who have gone on to make tremendous impact in their various communities.
Investing in women entrepreneurs is not just the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do, as our co-founder, Dr. Awele V. Elumelu, says, “When you empower a woman, you empower a nation!”
Women entrepreneurs are driving innovation, creating jobs, and contributing to economic growth and development across the continent. By investing in women entrepreneurs, we can unlock Africa’s potential and accelerate the continent’s journey towards prosperity and development. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has shown the way, and we must all follow its lead.
Here are some of Tony Elumelu’s women entrepreneurs who are creating impacts in their various communities:
Nkem Okocha is the founder of MamaMoni, a fintech startup that provides digital financial services to underserved women in Nigeria through a combination of mobile apps, web, and network of agents. She and her team are providing an inclusive platform for underprivileged women who are otherwise excluded from formal banking channels, micro health insurance, savings and other financial services.
Mamamoni.ng provides an array of life enriching features, such as micro health insurance, agency banking (POS services), third-party money transfer, and bills payment.
Through her platform, Nkem has empowered over 50,000 Nigerian women.
Juliet Namujju is a changemaker, fashion designer, wastepreneur, and environmentalist She is the founder of Kimuli Fashionability a Ugandan eco-fashion company that repurposes plastic polythene to create durable, waterproof clothing and accessories, in a bid to reverse the effects of the global climate crisis especially on Africa, and creating work possibilities for youth, and disabled tailors.
She is passionate about saving the environment and advocating for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in Africa.
Chioma Ogbudimkpa founded the fashion house known as Redbutton, an environmentally friendly ready-to-wear company that focuses on the production of workwear for female professionals, fusing African aesthetics, eco-friendly materials, and art from all over the world. With every piece, the brand places emphasis on African stories, powerful women, and sustainability.
Through Redbutton, Chioma seeks to project rare design innovation and modern African culture to the rest of the world. The brand’s tailoring is done in Nigeria and sold globally via redbuttonng.com and other local and international retail stores.
Lucy Mary Athieno is the founder of Eco-Pads Uganda, an environmentally friendly hygiene company that was established as a solution to the hygiene challenges that African women are facing by creating reusable and affordable menstrual pads, that can be reused for up to a year, and cost just USD $4. Lucy and her team are also committed to providing awareness through trainings to young girls, and senior male and female teachers on menstrual health management and sexual reproductive health. The idea for Eco-Pads Uganda was borne out of Lucy’s concern for young schoolgirls who regularly missed 4-5 days of school monthly due to the lack of access to affordable menstrual materials in Uganda .
So far, through her initiative, Lucy and the team at Eco-Pads have kept thousands of young African girls in school.