Women have from time past been directly or indirectly involved in supporting their families and communities through entrepreneurial activities especially through farming and the processing of farm products, fishing, textile production, and trading in markets, thereby contributing to household incomes and growth of national economies. Even with all the historical success, women still make the majority of players in the micro, small and quasi-micro business sectors. This is because adequate attention and the allocation of resources towards supporting women’s entrepreneurship endeavors is still minimal when compared to their counterparts. The continuous failure to pay attention to women’s economic activities is both a moral and economic injustice as improving access to entrepreneurial opportunities is a major requirement for any community to achieve greater levels of economic growth and development. Improving issues around gender equality will significantly improve the conditions of economic development.
According to data from the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex – Klapper, L.2014) database, women represent the greatest portion of the population with marginal or without access to capital. If we are ever going to be able to attain gender equality, then the issues of equity of opportunities at all levels of society and the economy must be addressed. Nigeria has among the largest numbers of female entrepreneurs around the world, with a lot more expressing their desires to launch their businesses, yet they remain minimally funded in the entrepreneurship space which is a key driver of growth in our society.
Public and private investors around the world have recognized the value of investing in women. Investing in women is not just a moral and social decision but is simply smart investing. Every investor wants to invest their time and resources in a good investment, and that is exactly what most female entrepreneurs are. It, therefore, makes economic, financial, and business sense to ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the same opportunities for success as their male counterparts.
It has become important that gender requirements are mainstreamed into the design of policies and initiatives aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs, it is way more than creating random opportunities. Instruments aimed at improving the technical and financial capacities of women entrepreneurs must be designed through a gender lens to boost the development of female entrepreneurs while equipping them with tools and resources to grow their enterprises. The covid-19 pandemic has presented a unique opportunity in its recovery to redesign and restructure our economic transformation by promoting inclusive economies. Before the pandemic, women already had significantly fewer economic and entrepreneurship opportunities than men – research has shown that $1 trillion could be lost from global growth if women are not supported back into the workforce.
Women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined, and the world must take advantage of it. With the growing population and increasing lack of jobs in Nigeria, we must put our full weight behind supporting female entrepreneurs. We therefore must continue to advocate for the allocation of more capital to initiatives that support female entrepreneurs and most especially the female entrepreneurs themselves who require capital to start, grow and scale their enterprises. This advocacy will also ensure that investors are aware of the numerous benefits of channeling funds into female-led businesses. Investors and funders must invest in the right projects and people that advance women’s economic empowerment and that means that more deals and investments must meet as many of the 2x investment criteria as possible. These criteria are:
• Whether a business is a majority-owned by women or founded by a woman
• The share of women in senior management or on the board
• The share of women in the workforce
• Whether a product or service specifically or disproportionately benefits women
• If a certain percent of loan proceeds in a deal through financial intermediaries supports women.
With this, more capital will shift towards investments that empower women in Africa to access entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities, as well as products and services that enhance their economic participation. scaling up the amount of financing available to support female entrepreneurs will not just improve overall profitability but will also help to overcome barriers, biases, and gaps that exist. Investors should begin to treat investment in female entrepreneurs and improvement of market opportunities for female investors as opportunities to be seized owing to their economic benefits.
The global community must renew its attention to women’s economic empowerment in developing countries and increase investments in women, especially in Nigeria, because we have the numbers in terms of female entrepreneurs and the population of market reach. Improving financial support for female entrepreneurs would enable the expansion of old businesses and increase the number of new businesses, which in turn, would boost economic activities leading to increased innovation, productivity, and growth.
Let’s get smart with investing!
Weyinmi Eribo is a trained geologist with Quality health safety and environment (QHSE) expertise, an enterprise development consultant, and a gender advisor with several years of experience across the oil and gas industry, extractive sector, health and safety, not-for-profit management, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Weyinmie is an entrepreneur and founder of Wevvo Nigeria, a resource and community-based platform that supports single female breadwinners by providing access to finance, enterprise development, mentoring and a community to thrive.
Weyinmie is a StartingBloc social innovation fellow and Regional Chair, West Africa Alumni, a World Bank Scholar and a Cherie Blair Foundation Mentee Alumni. She is also an Alumni of the Enterprise Development Centre, with a certificate in Non-profit leadership and management from Lagos Business School.
She is a member of the Ministerial Focal group for the establishment of the National Youth Investment Fund and a contributor for BusinessDay Weekender where she writes on issues bordering gender inclusiveness.
Her goal is to leverage her experience in providing value on projects and ensuring sustainability for interventions, particularly those that create jobs and stimulate business opportunities that can alleviate poverty in disadvantaged communities with special focus on women.