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Number of African businesswomen betting on innovation on a rise

A recent study published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reveals that approximately one in four African businesswomen (23.9%) has innovated. 

The survey was conducted with more than 420 women in 10 countries – Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ghana, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. 

The majority (80%) of the female entrepreneurs interviewed used science and technology in their work, ranging from traditional and solar ovens to digital design software and social media networks. Among the 104 women who affirmed that they had innovated, 17 (16.3%) had patented their invention. And 8 (7.7%) have created mobile applications alone or in partnership.

The UNESCO publication highlights that 90% of women who own companies in the countries studied are encouraged by other success stories instead of the lack of alternatives on the continent. The agency emphasizes that the result contradicts a mistaken preconception.

Nevertheless, several structural barriers still put them away from formally registering their business, for instance, which includes considerations of cost and the complexity of bureaucratic procedures. For seven out of ten (70%) respondents to the UNESCO survey, access to finance was the greatest barrier they had faced when starting their own business.

Furthermore, one in 10 women considers advances in equality and inclusion essential for the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

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Source: UNESCO (2021) Challenges and Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa: a Survey of Science and Technology Usage