Daring Women in Africa’s Potential Market     

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 There is a famous quote by Kofi Annan that says “when you empower a woman you empower a family and a whole nation”.

It has taken a long time to change the traditionalist patriarchal system in Africa so that the society can accept and appreciate women as leaders and entrepreneurs of their respective fields.

Young ambitious women have had to face adversity in the quest to start their own businesses or organizations. Most recently female entrepreneurs have been receiving increased support from both local and international organizations to aid them in growing and expanding their businesses.

Women Enterprise Fund is a semi-Autonomous government agency that was established in Kenya in 2007 under the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.

The aim of the fund is to provide accessible credit to support women either start or burgeon their business. Under this organization, women are allowed to borrow from as little as Ksh.1,000 to as much as Ksh.500,000 through registered groups in their respective constituencies.

Among other Non-Governmental Organizations, UN Women has also aided many women initiatives in Africa. Africa Centre for Women and Technology has also come up to empower young women to be economically independent and HIV free. It has also trained them and empowered their organizations.

Among many upcoming women entrepreneurs in the region, Kenya boasts of having produced majority of notable women in business.

Mentioned among the top 40 young women entrepreneurs in Kenya are:

 Vava Angwenyi, a self-confessed coffeeholic who started Vava Coffee – a social enterprise trading, roasting and consulting on coffee value chains.

At only 19,  Njeri Rionge had already developed an entrepreneurial spirit. She started by selling yoghurt in schools and later moved to clothing, before embarking on other small businesses. Over the years, she’s established a thriving consultancy business known as Ignite lifestyle and later developed digital marketing agency.

Terry Anne Chebet has became a household name as an ambitious business news anchor on the local Kenyan channels. Currently Chebet is the CEO of Scarlet Digital, a 360 Advertising and Communication firm. She is also the founder of Keyara natural bath and body products line that uses of Africa’s Shea butter and oil scents.

Sibongile Sambo applied for a job with South African Airways and was denied the position because of her height. She got her revenge when she started her own aviation business and is now the founder and Managing Director of SRS Aviation which is also the first black female owned aviation company in South Africa.  

Isabel dos Santos, is listed as the richest woman in Africa and is estimated to be worth around $ 3.3 billion. Not only is she the eldest daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos; the iron-willed woman has also strived to accumulate her wealth in oil and diamonds as well as in the communication and banking sector.

Bethlem Tilahum Alemu, born and bred in Addis Ababa grew up in a poor neighborhood. In a country where more than 50% of the population lives below the global poverty line, Alemu discovered that majority of her community people possessed artisan skills despite their abject living condition. 

Triggered with the will to change the region’s narrative, she founded SoleRebels, a friendly footwear manufacturer creating jobs to hundreds of locals. Presently, she has not only expanded her company in Africa but her company has also become a class venture with flagship stores in Taiwan, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, US among many other countries.

In Africa,5% of CEOs of major companies are women. Sub-Saharan Africa boasts the highest rate of women entrepreneurs at 27%. According to the Master Card Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2017, Uganda and Botswana were listed as having the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs globally with 34.8% and 34.6 % respectively.

There is still great need to support female talent and dreams in Africa, so that there can be a change in the traditional patriarchal form of leadership. This will enable Africa to  continue realizing  the benefits of women empowerment.