Supporting Women-Led MSMEs to Build Back Better Post-COVID-19

Gender equality is crucial to building thriving, inclusive, African economies and while both men and women are restricted by gender norms, young women disproportionately bear the burden of inequality. COVID-19 is setting back recent gains made towards women’s empowerment across the continent and a post-pandemic recovery that not only ensures women are not left behind, but accelerates also gender equity, will spur Africa’s economic growth and development.

How do we build a more equal post-COVID-19 world?

Micro, small and medium-sized business are vital to job growth in Africa. They make up more than 90% of all businesses in economies across the continent and account for the vast majority of jobs in the formal and informal sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa. While women comprise almost 60% of Africa’s self-employed workforce, gender barriers prevent them from accessing financial resources and operational supports that facilitate growth. These inequalities need to be addressed to ensure women-led SMEs can thrive during, and post-COVID-19.

As part of a collaboration with UN Women, ImpactHER conducted a survey of more than 1,300 women SME owners and 80% reported that they had to temporarily shut down their business. Of those still in operation:

  • 41% said that they had significantly reduced work hours
  • 34% had laid off workers
  • 25% had to reduce employees’ salaries

Empowering women entrepreneurs to access opportunities and overcome barriers

There are a number ways that development organizations, governments, and the private sector can come together to support women-led MSMEs and build a more equal post-pandemic world. The following are just a few that the Foundation is collaborating with partners on: