” We need to prioritise our women. As a father of five girls and being surrounded by women in the workplace, I see first-hand, the energy, the potential, and the professionalism in women’s leadership and I encourage it.”Tony O. Elumelu, CON
Africa leads the world in terms of numbers of women business owners. In fact, women in Africa are more likely than men to be entrepreneurs. Women make up 58 % the continent’s self-employed population. However, a recent World Bank report, profiting from parity, shows that women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa continue to earn lower profits than men (34 % less on average).
On average, women-owned microenterprises in Uganda generate 30 percent lower profits than their male counterparts (World Bank 2019). Lower levels of innovation, lower use of capital and labour, and sector-based sex segregation are all factors associated with women entrepreneurs’ poorer business outcomes relative to men in Uganda.
Women in Africa are more likely than men to choose entrepreneurship not because they have a burning passion or the right skills, but because of a lack of better opportunities. Wage job opportunities are relatively scarce in Africa and this is even more the case for women who often have lower levels of formal education and may face discrimination in hiring practices. Additionally, women tend to be given most of the responsibility for home-based work, including childcare, so small-scale home-based businesses may be one of the few ways they can generate an income to help cover the needs of their families.
Hence, many women who become entrepreneurs out of economic necessity do not intend or have the skills to build large and successful companies. Their decision to start a business instead of seeking wage work is influenced by important constraints such as differences in skills, capital, networks, time and family formation, occupational opportunities, and safety
According to Oppong (1994), women’s work has often been hidden in the tasks associated with domestic and marital roles, which has led to women’s relative invisibility in the official labour statistics of many countries in sub-Saharan African. The reason for this admitted bias towards women’s work, in contrast to men’s work, is that economic activities of females have suffered from misconceptions, poor measurement and recording, and consequent neglect, since they have tended to be subsumed under, women’s roles as daughters, house-wives and mothers.
Furthermore, findings from Uganda also pointed to sectoral segregation as an important determinant of the gender earnings gap in entrepreneurship. In Uganda for example, the average monthly profit in the female-dominated saloons sector is just USD 86, while those in the male-dominated electrical sectors enjoy average monthly profits of USD 371.
To address the drivers of gender gaps, the Ugandan government could consider implementing policies and programs focused on enhancing women’s entrepreneurial skills. Providing these women entrepreneurs with the training they need to develop the right skills and a growth-oriented mindset to spur innovation; improving their use of and control over capita.
Also improving women entrepreneurs’ skills through adequate training in male-dominated sectors, and providing access to capital could support women entrepreneurs in crossing over into more profitable male-dominated sectors.
~ Author: Eniye Aduwari