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Investing in Women Entrepreneurs

Smiling Woman Entrepreneur

Investing in Women Entrepreneurs

What are the key needs of women-owned businesses and how can investors better support them?

MEDA’s latest publication outlines the key characteristics, influencing environment, and needs of Women-Owned Businesses in order to support investors and technical assistance or business service providers in Africa to adopt a gender lens within their current practices and policies.

The findings and strategies presented in this paper were collected through research conducted by MEDA as part of a consultancy for GroFin, a private development finance institution specializing in debt financing and support to small and growing businesses throughout Africa and the Middle East. The scope of this consultancy included research and analysis of both the demand and supply of financial and nonfinancial services for women entrepreneurs in order to develop an in-depth understanding of their experiences and context around access to finance, business support services, and gender equality issues.

WBE Summary Report Cover

SUMMARIZING THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS, ENABLING ENVIRONMENT AND NEEDS OF WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS

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This report outlines the key characteristics, influencing environment, and needs of Women-Owned Businesses in order to support investors and technical assistance or business service providers in Africa to adopt a gender lens within their current practices and policies.

Commonalities Acorss Women-Owned Businesses

Primary data was collected through both qualitative and quantitative methods including surveys and focus group discussions (FGDs) with WBEs and in-depth interviews with industry experts in four countries; Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. These four countries were chosen as they represent different regions in Africa (north, west, east and south) in order to get a sense of WBEs experience in each region of the continent. Further, secondary data was gathered through extensive desk research and included both academic papers and industry reports in order to bring together the best insights from both literature and practice.

This paper starts with a review summarizing the characteristics of a women-owned business and the enabling environment for WBEs. The second part of this paper summarizes findings from the primary field research conducted in three areas: technical assistance and business support; financial support; and gender-specific considerations. Each of these areas includes considerations for investors and technical assistance or business service providers to adopt a gender lens within their current practices and policies.

Women-owned businesses have three inter-dependent needs: financial support, business support, and gender-specific considerations.

Gender Lens Investing

Most WBEs from the study have experienced some form of gender discrimination. Most also feel that financing entities and business service providers do not tailor to their needs. Many women were also unsure of where to go and who would take them seriously, for business support and financing.

Ultimately, taking a gender lens is not just good for business but also gets us closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal #5 Gender Equality, a goal which is foundational to attaining progress on all other SDGs.

"It is no exaggeration to say that women's entrepreneurship has the power to change the world - and the benefits go far beyond boosting global GDP. Closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship and fueling the growth of women-owned enterprises will unleash new ideas, services, and products into our markets. And ultimately, those forces may redefine the future."
- Shalini Unnikrishnan and Cherie Blair