It is no surprise that the highest share of women in the workforce globally is in Africa, with 58% being self employed. Zimbabwe in particular, has the highest amount of working women with 52.8% and a Sub-Saharan average of 40%. Women’s formal ownership of SMEs currently stands at around a third of all registered SMEs in Africa, and women-owned SMEs are more likely to have lower sales and annual turnover, less employees, and smaller size than those enterprises owned by men. Women-owned businesses are particularly vulnerable to shocks, as they are disproportionately informal and operate in less-profitable sectors.
March is Women's History Month, a great time for celebrating the phenomenal accomplishments of women throughout the world for their incredible contribution to science, business, the arts and so much more throughout global history. At Afritech XYZ, we are endlessly inspired by the women who continue to kick down barriers, smash through glass ceilings and forge their own paths in the start up space in Africa. These powerhouse African women are trailblazing and scorching a path for change. And we want to see them celebrated more - not just this month, but every month (week and day for that matter!).
This month, we’d like you to join us in celebrating two women in the African tech ecosystem who are creating spaces for women to thrive in their respective businesses - the incredible Odun Eweniyi and awesome Eloho Omame who recently joined forces to solve one of the biggest barriers for women in business - accessing finance.
Odun is the inimitable Co-founder and COO at Piggyvest, a platform which helps over 2 million customers make regular savings and investments easily through a simple app. Combining her unstoppable talent with Endeavor Nigeria’s Eloho, the pair recently co-founded First Check Africa, a female-led, female-focused angel fund and investor community, to make it easier for African women in tech to raise capital. Both women have experienced the challenges of accessing finance and both strongly believe in the massive underleveraged potential of Africa’s next generation of female founders.
Equalizing access to finance in the African start up space
In 2019, female-led companies received less than 5% of the global venture capital. Specifically, in Africa, only 10% of the West African startups that cumulatively raised $1 million had at least one female co-founder in the past decade. First Check Africa’s fund is offering between $15,000 to $25,000 to six women in 2021, in exchange for a small equity in their businesses. In addition, the investors will see each woman or female-led team through the ideation stage to a significant pre-seed round within 12 months.
With a UNESCO study showing that women in the tech industry constitute only 28% of professionals in the sector worldwide, and just 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is an urgent need to close the huge gap between women and men pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM]. The presence of more women in tech offers significant advantages to the field – newer approaches to innovation and the potential to enter untapped markets.
Investing in female founders is extremely important, not only because diversity is great for business, but it sparks innovation and statistically produces higher returns. Venture capital partnerships have historically been built by men and having more female venture capitalists fosters a more inclusive funding space for women.