MASERU – In many African countries, women’s advancement is hindered by less supportive entrepreneurial conditions, lack of funding, less opportunities as well as structural barriers. This applies in business as well, where men are also in the frontline when women take the backseat. However, narratives are gradually changing as some African countries such as Uganda, Botswana and Ghana are ranked as the world’s top three economies with the largest proportion of female entrepreneurs.
According to The 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) for the third consecutive year, Botswana sits at 38.5 percent, Uganda 38.4 percent and Ghana at 37.2 percent as the countries with the biggest proportion of women business owners globally. Botswana, however, ranks in the top 15 economies globally in terms of advancement outcomes for women, particularly as far as performance by income is concerned. Though Lesotho did not make it among the top countries, there are a number of initiatives done to inspire women and youth at large to venture into entrepreneurship.
One of the initiatives is offered by the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) through its Business Plan Competition (BPC), which has since establishment assisted at least 27 young women to venture into business, in the past financial year. According to the BEDCO communications, marketing and stakeholder engagements manager, Mpoi Lebakeng, the number of women venturing into business is expected to increase this year.
“The only programme implemented this year that targeted start-ups is the Business Plan Completion, this means the only women who ventured into businesses because of our interventions are those from BPC,” she said, adding that the BPC second cohort and Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP) will bring in additional women into business. She also said that BPC has a 60 percent quota for women while BEP previous beneficiaries included at least one woman-led start-up per instalment. BEDCO is currently running a completion for 50 enterprises to be awarded M100 000 in seed capital by submitting complete business plans and identification information before July 31.