Women Entrepreneurs: Driving Change and Overcoming Challenges in Africa (Part 1)

Women are synonymous with hard work. While the different governments, private sector, and other institutions are working to reduce gender inequality in Africa, women in Africa are also hard at work reducing the gender wage gap.

In Africa, women are known to provide financial assistance for their families and communities.

With most female entrepreneurs found in Africa, women are now highly involved in making financial decisions. Across the globe, women influence consumer purchases due to their purchasing power and influence.

Women in SMEs: Driving Economic Growth and Facing Challenges

Women own and lead 30% of SMEs. They create 70% of employment worldwide. These companies make up 45% of all employment. They make up 33% of the GDP. The statistics are driven by different studies across the globe.

Women make up roughly 52% of the population of Kenya. However, women own just 30% of the registered enterprises and their level of financial inclusion is still low. Less than 10% of Kenya’s registered title deeds are held by women. That makes it more difficult for women-led enterprises to get larger secured loan amounts.

Success Stories of Women Entrepreneurs in Africa

Despite the challenges women entrepreneurs face, it has not killed their stamina. Women have started big companies and are successfully managing them. We will take a virtual tour across Africa sharing different success stories of women entrepreneurs.

Tabitha Karanja: Revolutionizing Kenya’s Beverages Sector

One of East Africa’s most successful female businesswomen is Tabitha Karanja in Kenya. She is the founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries Ltd, and has transformed her company into a formidable player in Kenya’s beverages industry. Business financing through business loans has seen the output capacity of Keroche rise and has made significant strides in the Manufacturing Industry.  Within the following few years, Keroche expects to more than double its market share and intends to list on the local stock exchange. Keroche Breweries has experienced significant growth and serves as an inspiration to women entrepreneurs across Africa.

Bright Asiimwe Wandera: Empowering Uganda’s Hospitality Industry

Bright Asiimwe Wandera is another face of success in the list of women entrepreneurs in Africa. She founded Plum Café and Restaurant in Uganda, he also serves as its CEO. She has experience starting businesses. Her passion for the hospitality industry is renowned. She is a former participant in the Stanbic Bank Uganda Business Incubator. She fully understands the role of business financing in Africa. She also ran the Africa Women Entrepreneurs Cooperative. She has experience running two supermarkets. In February 2021, Bright opened Plum Café and Restaurant in two locations. It was after trying a restaurant concept in 2020 affixed to one of her supermarkets. Bright Asiimwe Wandera is a true inspiration to many other women entrepreneurs. She knows what it takes to start and manage multiple profitable businesses at once.

Kundai Moyo: Closing the Diagnostic Services Gap in Malawi

Meet Kundai Moyo from Malawi. The entrepreneurial adventure of Kundai began in September 2017. Along with Taziona Emily Mzumara, Kundai Moyo decided to close the diagnostic services gap in Lilongwe -the capital of Malawi. APEX Medical Labs was established to bring diagnostics to patients more quickly.

The fact that they save lives, money, and time is their unique selling proposition. They employ a mobile specimen-collecting app that offers patients instant results. APEX Medical Labs provides wellness packages. It aids in diagnosis to help in disease prevention. It has greatly advanced the country’s general health.

Lee Chisale: Bridging the Luxury Wellness Spa Gap in Malawi

Meet Lee Chisale as well, the founder of Belle Afrique, Malawi. There was a strong market need for a luxury wellness spa brand in Malawi. With a top-notch brand and product line-up, Lee Chisale’s business idea Belle Afrique is bridging that gap. Belle Afrique encourages healthy living and provides aesthetic procedures. They provide a variety of medical services. Examples are Massage therapy, Physician consultations, Waxing, Skin treatments and Aesthetic procedures. They provide a range of professional certifications in health and beauty. They include certifications in basic professionalism, front desk, stress management, exercise, food, and nutrition, makeup application, waxing, and other disciplines

Do we have any women entrepreneurs in the construction industry? Women are not shying off from any industry. They have embraced even the so-called “men’s jobs”.

The construction industry includes Physical infrastructure, Electrical services, Architecture and Consultancy services.

Do we have examples of women in this industry? Sure yes.

Women Entrepreneurs in the Construction Industry

Susan Muthoni Kimani is a prime example of a woman entrepreneur breaking barriers in the construction industry. You may have heard about Muthokinju. Have you ever wondered what this has to do with painting?

Among the rest, Muthokinju Paints and Cement Hardware stand out. She established a renowned hardware store in Kenya. The business deals with suppliers of construction materials. It was founded with the goal of expanding regionally. The intention is to eventually include all of Africa.

How did the company get started? Running a restaurant in Kenyatta Market had given Susan considerable experience. She thought it would be difficult to sell perishable foods. She decided against going back into the restaurant industry.

Susan consequently decided to operate a hardware company with her business partner Njuguna, her husband. Thus, the name MUTHOKINJU was created using the initials of the founders: Muthoni (MUTHO), Kimani (KI), and Njuguna (NJU). Muthokinju Paints has experienced rapid expansion over time. Almost 150 people work for the company today across 14 outlets.

In conclusion, despite the challenges they face, women entrepreneurs in Africa continue to thrive, demonstrating resilience, innovation, and leadership in various sectors. Their success stories inspire and motivate other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. In Part 2, we will further explore inspiring women entrepreneurs in sectors such as education, agriculture, and technology, highlighting the importance of empowering women in achieving gender equality and driving economic growth in Africa.

About the Author: Debbie D'Costa