According to a recent World Bank report, Africa is the only continent where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs. However, despite the encouraging finding, women still access less financing compared to their male counterparts. Score, a US based business and education platform posits… “Financing is a challenge for all entrepreneurs, but data shows that women are much less likely than men to both seek and obtain financing for their small businesses.” Globally, 31 per cent of female entrepreneurs seeking financing get approved for loans, compared to 34 per cent of men. In Africa, the statistics are a bit more daunting, on the average, there are huge gender gaps in access to size of loans and profitable returns across African countries*. African women struggle to get loans of the same size as men due to factors around size of asset ownership.
The Case with Female Led Social Enterprises in Africa
Female-led social enterprises are gradually emerging as significant contributors to the economic performance of their countries. Most female led business owners employ other women, provide fair wages, ensure healthcare and family support at the minimum. These Female led African Social Enterprises mostly tackle issues related to nutrition, Health and wellbeing, the environment and other social problems. It is projected that female led social enterprises will grow by more than 30% by 2025. This phenomenon will be driven by organic African entrepreneurship pursuit, societal awareness and a growing sense of community and responsibility, synonymous with the ‘My brother’s keeper’ culture prevalent within the African continent. The question begs asking, “what are the avenues that can be explored by female led social enterprise owners to mitigate the usual challenges with accessing funding for women entrepreneurs?”
Accessing Funding Opportunities for Female Led Social Enterprises
1. Tell a compelling story and measure your Impact. Relay your purpose and community impact in a visual and compelling manner
2. Ensure your Social objectives are aligned to the one or more of the 17 UN SDG goals. This makes your business a lot more relevant within international donor circles. Depending on the industry you operate in, you will find that one or a number of the UN SDG goals can be adopted as relevant impact areas your business can focus on.
3. Prove your need for funding: Showcase the potential for larger and or deeper impact within the short to mid-term with the right kind of funding. You will need to clearly present how improved funding will enable your organisation execute a lot more within a specified time frame within your community.
4. Invest time and resources in researching both Non profit, as well as For Profit Organisations invested in Social causes and Philanthropic funding. Make sure you connect with relevant stakeholder (Linkeln and Contact Us tag on the organisation’s website should help). Share your impact story. Widen your dragnet, do not limit yourself to in country partners.
5. Sign up to relevant ‘Business for Good” sites, platforms and social news aggregator sites e.g. nonprofitready.com; www2.fundsforngos.org etc. These sites might point you to the much-needed grant opportunities and resources that enables you/ your organisation secure funding that enables your enterprise scale, whilst creating wider impact. The emergence of social entrepreneurship ventures in Africa is enabling reduction of some of the worst forms of poverty.
International philanthropic organisations and impact investors pivoting to the “Doing good, beyond doing well” ideology recognise the importance of social enterprises in impoverished areas and are on the look out to provide technical and financial assistance to organisations, that are clearly able to capture and showcase their impact in the communities they exist in, beyond a profit and loss statement that is firmly in the black.
Sources: *2017, Score.org report. Profiting from Parity, 2018 WB report
*Written By Kehinde Kamson. A Business and Leadership Strategist. Program Manager