By The Conversation
Entrepreneurship can empower women economically, transform their lives socially and boost their contribution to their households. This is particularly important in sub-Saharan Africa, where unemployment rates are high and women are often excluded from the formal economy. Yet research shows that the proportion of women entrepreneurs who are successful is lower than the comparable figure for men. This is because of barriers to women reaching their potential.
We looked at how collaborative networks affected the ability of women to participate in tourism in Nigeria and Ghana. We also looked at what role policy could play in reducing the barriers to their success in the sector. We chose tourism because it is a relatively accessible route to entrepreneurship.
Ghana and Nigeria have established themselves as tourism destinations in West Africa. Numbers of tourists and income from tourism have been growing, and making an impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and jobs. In Ghana tourism contributes 5.5% to GDP, and in Nigeria the contribution is 5% to GDP.
Gender inequality is apparent in tourism: males dominate managerial and supervisory positions and females usually have a lower status. The dominance also permeates the entire entrepreneurial landscape. In Ghana about 53.6% of all businesses are owned by males and 46.4% by females. Similarly, in Nigeria, females own only about 40% of all businesses.
Although the 2018 Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship report suggests that women’s activity in business is growing in Ghana and Nigeria, the businesses are often small in scale or don’t survive.
The main barrier we identified was that women’s efforts to build a business were often interrupted by family caring roles. Other barriers included workplace discrimination, stereotyping and promotion inequities.
Women are the most affected by the challenges of development. When business opportunities are created for them, they have more power to deal with those challenges and get closer to the Sustainable Development Goals. If policymakers understand the issues that confront women in business, they can craft policies and strategies that create a more enabling environment.