Uganda has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world, with 90.5 percent of women borrowing and saving money to start a business, which is significantly higher than the 52.4 percent average of other low-to-lower-middle-income countries.
In a new report released by MasterCard Tuesday, it was reported that 34.8 percent of businesses in Uganda are owned by women, making the East African nation the top performing country in Africa in terms of women entrepreneurship.
The report is part of the MasterCard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE), which is aimed at helping governments and other relevant bodies better understand and identify ways of bridging the gender gap among business owners in different economies.
The 2016 MasterCard Index is based on three main factors: women’s advancement outcomes, access to knowledge and financial services, and supporting entrepreneurial factors.
The American financial services corporation examined 54 countries around the globe, including Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda.
“Uganda scored particularly well in terms of advancement outcomes: the women entrepreneurial activity rate was 100 percent, with its labor force participation rate at 93.9 percent, making the country the top in these areas worldwide,” the report says.
The report places Uganda ahead of giant economies, such as the United States, Spain, Austria, New Zealand, and Russia.
Resilience & Determination
According to the report, women in developing countries are driven in to entrepreneurship by the desire to provide for their families.
These women are mainly tapping in to business opportunities that do not necessarily require special expertise and innovation, effectively enabling them to avoid any major regulatory, technical, and financial constraints.
The report further reinforces the belief that women entrepreneurs are powerful engines of economic development and financial inclusion, especially in developing economies like Africa.
These findings also highlight the economic challenges that women entrepreneurs in Africa continue to contend with as they struggle to remain a cornerstone of trade and productivity on the continent.
Challenges Facing Female Entrepreneurs
In a sector that was previously dominated by men, female entrepreneurs are still finding it difficult to venture in to business.
According to the Index, one of the main challenges that continue to prevent women from starting businesses is lack of financial funding or venture capital.
Since women in many African communities are still not allowed to own property, they encounter numerous hurdles when trying to access credit facilities from financial institutions mainly because they have nothing to offer as collateral.
Other major challenges include institution inefficiencies and regulatory restrictions, lack of confidence and entrepreneurial drive, socio-cultural restrictions, fear of failure, and lack of training.
Nonetheless, previous negative cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs in Africa have significantly changed, with more African governments now putting in place measures aimed at empowering women financially.