For many African women, the opportunities for becoming an entrepreneur and growing formal businesses are even scarcer than for their male counterparts.
Women typically struggle more with accessing loans from banks and other financial institutions in many African countries, and are often not given the same opportunities in education due to beliefs around traditional roles of men and women. For many low-income families, when given the choice to send either the son or daughter to school, the son is typically given preference.
This year, only 27% of applicants for the Anzisha Prize were women. However, one country stands out – Rwanda. While its small population meant overall number of applications from the country was only a fraction of Nigeria’s, what was interesting is that close to 60% of applicants were women.
This seems to represent the country’s overall focus around women empowerment. After Rwanda’s genocide in 1994, women made up 70% of the population, and President Paul Kagame has since introduced a number of initiatives to support women in business, education and politics. In fact, Rwanda has caught the attention of international media over the years for being the only country in the world to have more women members of parliament than men.
“It is exciting to see Rwanda take such progressive steps. Women empowerment has considerable benefits for any economy’s growth and development, and we hope that other African countries follow Rwanda’s example,” says Grace Kalisha, senior programmes manager at the African Leadership Academy.
In celebration of Rwanda’s impressive proportion of women applicants, The Anzisha Prize has highlighted some of these entrepreneurs below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Finalists for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for its youngest entrepreneurs, have not yet been announced. The entrepreneurs profiled below have been selected randomly, and are not necessarily winners.