Women-led Africa businesses more vulnerable to closure in era of Covid-19
JOHANNESBURG - Women-led businesses in Africa are more vulnerable to closure than those led by men in the era of Covid-19, due to limited access to finance, shifts in consumer behavior and increased household care responsibilities as a result of extended lockdowns, a forum held this week revealed.
All across the continent, the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking economic havoc and hitting women the hardest, with their small and medium-sized enterprises at greater risk as they operate in lower profit margin, service-based industries, according to findings revealed at a webinar organised by the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme.
“The compilation and analysis of real time data is crucial as Africa responds to the pandemic. The surveying of women-led businesses from across sectors and industries provides opportunity to have targeted interventions aimed at keeping these vital contributors to African economies afloat,” AFAWA coordinator Esther Dassanou said.
The findings resulted from a survey of more than 1,300 women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in 30 African countries on the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses.
Over 200 participants joined in the virtual webinar, which was moderated by UN Women economic empowerment regional policy advisor for West and Central Africa Elena Ruiz.
"The policy brief and the discussion have put on the table strategies that work for women entrepreneurs in the region," Ruiz said.
"We hope this will contribute to make sure that women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses are at the centre of Covid-19 recovery plans, and to help governments and other actors build a post-Covid economy that challenges, rather than reproduces, gender inequalities."
The African Development Bank recently approved a loan of 264 million euros (about US$300 million) to help support the Moroccan government in mitigating the health and socio-economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, and part of the money will go towards mobilising financial resources for women-owned enterprises whose cash flow has deteriorated.
“The fight against the pandemic requires public and private sector involvement to enhance women entrepreneurs’ ability to bounce back from the crisis. Efforts such as the one in Morocco as well as Tunisia and Ghana, should be replicated throughout the continent,” Dassanou said.African News Agency