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Africa's courageous women entrepreneurs
Malcolm Ray
Published: 26-SEP-05

Johannesburg - With women comprising 52% of Africa’s estimated 805 million people there can be no doubt that the empowerment of women is imperative for the continent’s sustainable growth.

Although the research on African women entrepreneurs is limited, anecdotal evidence supports the belief that women who possess economic means invest more in education, their families and communities. And women entrepreneurs typically create linkages with other women-owned firms in both rural and urban areas through formal and informal business networks.

In other words, it can be reasonably argued that African women are at the cutting edge of poverty and development and key to any poverty reduction strategy on the continent.

And that’s by no means sterile business babble. In the US alone, the surge of women-owned businesses after 1990 by 45% implies that female-owned businesses provide work for more than 15.5 million people and generates sales in excess of a trillion US dollars a year – more than all the Fortune 500 companies combined.

In Africa, despite the persistence of the ‘male model’ of corporate behaviour and the marginalisation of women from the formal economy, the myth of typically female societal roles is fast unravelling.

As a few courageous women entrepreneurs are proving their metal in the corporate environment and demonstrating increasingly their contribution as a force for social well-being outside the home environment.

Not only are women competing with their male counterparts for typically male positions in the corporate arena, they are also starting up and running their own businesses.

Taken as an index of potential wealth generation and job creation, the empowerment of women in the African context could be nothing short of spectacular if implemented as a deliberate agenda for change.

So it’s cause for celebration when women are bucking the trend, turning a pretty penny through sheer guts and innovation.

With that in mind, we tracked down some of the continent’s top businesswomen on the move and got them to tell their stories.

BIA East Africa launch

Also on the move is the Business in Africa Group. We have joined forces with Capital Group Ltd in Kenya, a well established media company in Kenya with extensive experience in radio and print media, to launch a monthly East African edition of Business in Africa magazine.

The focus of the East Africa edition would be to provide comprehensive business coverage of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the neighbouring countries of the region using a senior team of editors based in Kenya as well as a seasoned writers based in various east African countries.

Consistent with the regional focus of the magazine will be a Southern African edition, offering readers in SADC member countries extensive coverage on the region.

In the first quarter of next year, we’ll launch the final leg of our expansion into the African continent – the BIA West African edition.

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