International Women’s Day, a reminder of gender inequality in business

As we mark International Women’s Day today, we are reminded of the work that still lies ahead for women in business in Africa and across the globe. Despite increasing gender parity in access to education – female labour participation has not improved for the most part.

Barriers for women in business

Africa is the only region in the world where more women than men become entrepreneurs, yet the hurdles are many. Both male and female entrepreneurs face constraints such as lack of capital. Women however are specifically impacted by social constraints such as discrimination. As a result, female-owned enterprises report monthly profits that are on average 38% lower than those of male-owned businesses.

“Countries cannot compete effectively in the global economy of the future if women and men are not given equal opportunities,” says Karabo Keepile – Managing Director of Women in Business Seminar, a learning and sharing platform for female entrepreneurs in Africa.

“To encourage larger numbers of women-owned businesses there is a clear need to widen access to business start-up training and advice. This requires offering a wide range of start-up support services which encourage women into business,” says Keepile. “Platforms such as Women in Business Seminar are deliberately creating these learning and sharing events to fast track progress in this regard,” adds Keepile.

The recent World Bank Group report Women Business and the Law shows that laws preventing sex-based discrimination are associated with significantly higher employment and earnings among women.

The Women, Business, and the Law report, has found for example that despite the considerable progress that many countries have made in improving women’s legal rights over the last decade, women are still only accorded 75% of the legal rights that men, on average are given.

According to the World Bank, data collected in ten African countries indicate that on average, male-owned enterprises have six times more capital than female-owned enterprises. The fact that women have less access to assets affects their ability to obtain medium-sized loans and in turn, impacts the growth of their enterprises. Female entrepreneurs in Africa also tend to confine themselves to the traditionally female sectors, usually because of a lack of information.

“We hope that by hosting many more tailored events focused on empowering female business owners, we will educate and offer more tools and resources needed to increase chances of success for those women and also provide the opportunity for emerging female entrepreneurs to learn from those who have overcome the odds to become high-growth entrepreneurs across the continent. Their lessons will definitely add value and hopefully also direct policies to encourage female owned business.


Women in Business Seminar is a learning and sharing platform for female owned business. Established in 2016, Women in Business Seminar organises seminars that address pressing issues in the fields of business for women. Our latest event will take place 26 April 2019, At Al Fresco in Honeydew- Johannesburg, where the Theme: New Business Development will be discussed, and topics such as finding new clients, retaining clients and wining back lost clients will be discussed by our panel of female entrepreneurs and sales professionals.

Karabo Keepile is also host of the Women in Business Seminar hosted by Karabo Keepile YouTube channel where she profiles female entrepreneurs and also offers business advice based on her own entrepreneurial journey.


Karabo Keepile

067 096 6008

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