African female entrepreneurship rates highest in world

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Female entrepreneurship rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are the highest in the world, according to a new report that says women’s entrepreneurial activity is increasing globally.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016/17 Women’s Report released this week found women’s entrepreneurial activity globally is up 10 per cent, closing the gender gap by five per cent since 2014.

Sub-Saharan Africa leads the way, with its female entrepreneurship rates the highest globally. 25.9 per cent of the female adult population is engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the region.

Within the continent, Senegal was the best performer with 36.8 per cent while South Africa has lowest number of women entrepreneurs active in the region at just 5.9 per cent. The majority of African women entrepreneurs – 61.8 per cent – said they started a business because they are taking advantage of opportunity, rather than out of necessity.

Sub-Saharan Africa does however also have the highest discontinuance rate – at 8.4 per cent. Around 56 per cent of women entrepreneurs in the region cite either unprofitability or lack of finance as a reason for closing down their business.

In the past year, 163 million women were starting businesses across 74 economies worldwide, while 111 million were running established businesses.

“This not only shows the magnitude of impact women entrepreneurs have across the globe, but highlights the contribution they make toward the growth and well-being of their societies,” said Babson College professor and report co-author Donna Kelley. “Women entrepreneurs provide incomes for their families, employment for those in their communities, and products and services that bring new value to the world around them.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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