Generally, sub-Saharan Africa women are about 45% less likely to be online than men, statistics that translate into fewer African women SME owners participating in ecommerce, a report has revealed.
The report titled ‘Transformative policy solutions to support women-led businesses in Africa in a post-COVID-19 world’ was compiled by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with support from the UN Women and ImpacHER.
The report however, revealed that technologically enabled businesses are critical for survival in the COVID and, arguably, the post COVID-19 era.
“This gap, if not addressed, would perpetuate and exclude women-led businesses from participating in an economy that is becoming more and more digital,” it said.
Regarding the lack of information regarding loan facilities, the report said even when loan products are made available, studies show that women, sometime, self-select out of applying for such loan due to the lengthy loan application processes or the perception that they may not qualify due to the many requirements.
“Bank loans often have collateral requirements and high interest rates. However, most women in Africa do not have access to collateral like their male peers and as a result may not qualify for loans.
“Also, studies show that women-led businesses are less likely to receive bank loans from financial institutions than their male counterparts and have to pay higher interest rates despite having a great repayment track record.”
On measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Women-Led Businesses it said governments and stakeholders cannot afford to ignore the needs of African women-led businesses post-COVID.
“In a post COVID-19 world, women SME owners need adapted solutions in the form of financial loan repayment grace periods to flexible collateral options, and technical assistance, ranging from technology to general business advisory, to thrive.
“88% of the women entrepreneurs that responded to the ImpactHER survey indicated that they needed technical assistance to adapt in the post COVID-19 world,” it said.