Challenges Facing Women Entrepreneurs in Africa and How to Overcome

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It is challenging to be in business for women compared to men. Women tend to spend 2.5 times more time in domestic chores compared to men. As such, they have to divide their time between family and running a business.

Challenges that face women in business are great hindrances to the growth of their businesses. If these challenges are not addressed, they hinder women-owned enterprises’ development.

Major Challenges and their Solutions

The following are the major challenges that curtail the growth of women-owned enterprises.

Lack of Adequate Training and Education

Most women miss out on getting adequate education due to gender bias in society. It becomes challenging for women to understand how businesses work and how to maintain an account.  Lack of skills and information on how to run and grow a company curtails women enterprises from growing.

As if that is not enough, lack of proper education makes women miss out on policy-making bodies. Having women contribute to policy-making would help them address the challenges they face in business. They can pass laws that will allow them to have equal opportunities to access education. There should also be the development of courses and training programs that address the needs of women.

Lack of Markets and Networking Opportunities

For a business to grow, skills, expertise and practice are essential. You can source them through networking.  Unfortunately, most women tend to spend much of their time on unpaid family duties. They do not have time to interact with successful business people to exchange ideas and find entrepreneurship solutions.

Also, businesses are male-dominated making it unwelcoming to women. In other cases, women face sexual harassment. As such, women fail to network and consequently fail to secure markets for their enterprises. Besides, networking happens after working hours when it is time for women to spend with their families.

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There should be an establishment of women-only networking opportunities that are safe. They should also focus on hours when women are available. Such support networks can look into professional and professional lives for women. It can give women more people to look up to as role models.

Societal Beliefs, Traditional Roles and Balancing Family Life

In most African societal beliefs, women’s role is to do house chores while the man is the sole breadwinner. While these beliefs are dying with time, they still influence the success of women in business. In most cases, male children are taught at a tender age to look and provide for a family, while girls are left out. It makes it difficult for women to learn entrepreneurial skills early enough. Instead, they are taught how to look after a family.

Although balancing family life with a business can be difficult, training girls at a tender age to venture into entrepreneurship can help them maneuver through. It will help to eliminate the stereotype that women’s role is in a family only. To counteract the problem, it is best to instill an entrepreneurial culture in girls at a tender age.

Stigma that Comes with Men Working Under Women

It is perceived that women are dominating over men and bossy when men are working under them. Such perceptions dictate what duties to be assigned to men and those for women. Likewise, they also dictate what kind of businesses women can venture into and those they cannot.

Social stigma also arises when women give instructions to men. It makes women shy away from taking top positions, fearing they won’t be taken seriously. To counter such problems, women need to develop self-confidence and take their stand in business. The common belief that women are weak should also be eliminated. They should also develop a hard skin against criticism. Women should take a stand, venture into business and prove that they are strong.

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Coping With Fear and Failure

Women fear taking risks and starting a business and later shut it down. Women are cautious when taking risks. Unfortunately, successful entrepreneurs are the greatest risk-takers. The African culture views failure, negatively making it even more challenging for women to start a business.

Failure is the first step to learn and women should take it as a challenge to venture into entrepreneurship. When you start a business and it fails, that shouldn’t be the end. The road to success is paved with failures and losses and you have got to experience them to make it.  Women should take failure positively and learn how to overcome self-doubt. Staying focused on goals and learning from mistakes is critical for women to succeed in business.

Lack of Startup Finances

There are many societal beliefs that hinder the success of women in business. In most African countries, women are not considered during the transfer of properties. For example, in Kenya women hold just one per cent of land titles and five per cent jointly with men. This makes them deprived of access to finances critical in starting a business. Traditional banks require collateral such as land to offer business loans.

Also, it is considered wrong for women to accept dowry for their children. This deprives them access to assets they can use as collateral to get business loans for startups. Financial institutions also do not have products that consider the needs of women in business.

Financial institutions should develop financial products that focus on the unique needs of women entrepreneurs. Cheap grants and startup loans for women will help them start their own businesses.

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