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Identifying obstacles and unlocking potential

Women are a lever for economic growth, but they need to be given the opportunity to make their business ventures grow. This is the main argument of the recent World Bank report, Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women's Business in Africa.

This report on the gender constraints affecting the choices and performance of women entrepreneurs sheds a new light on how social norms, networks and decisions taken at household level contribute to business success - or failure. Because, when it comes to entrepreneurship, women are at a disadvantage. Based on household and business survey data from 14 African countries, the report traces the common characteristics of barriers to women’s entrepreneurship: customary laws restricting access to land, equal rights that are insufficiently guaranteed by law, patriarchy, lower levels of training, reduced access to networks and information, etc.

The report offers policymakers evidence-based guidance on designing programmes to target the multiple obstacles women face and improve the performance of women entrepreneurs. These include training programmes to encourage women to act with an entrepreneurial mindset and provide secure savings mechanisms. It is also important, among other policies and interventions, for governments to remove legal constraints to gender equality and to strengthen land tenure rights for women.

With more women in Africa than in any other region of the world launching into business, it is time for their potential to benefit everyone, starting with themselves.

Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women's Business in Africa

World Bank, 2019; 206 pp.

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