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Uganda Leads Africa in Number of Female Entrepreneurs

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) Uganda is leading other African countries in the number of female entrepreneurs as a percentage of total business owners despite being less developed and not as financially/economically advanced.

In the list, Uganda was followed by Ghana which emerged as the second African country on the list, and Botswana as the third from a group of 58 markets profiled from around the world.

The study highlighted key indices for measurement such as; the gender gap among business owners, comparing their numbers against those of men-owned enterprises and considering women business owners who employ at least one person other than themselves. The survey highlighted this results harnessing data from establishments such as: UNESCO, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and the International Labour Organisation.

Uganda is ranked first at 38.2 per cent of female owners as a percentage of total business owners, Ghana is second with 37.9 per cent, Botswana third with 36 per cent, Malawi is seventh with 31.1 per cent, and Angola ninth with 30.3 per cent. This means that in Uganda and Ghana, nearly four in every 10 business owners are women. According to the researchers of these markets, this suggests that in these economies, women are just as inclined as men to engage in entrepreneurship (Source:

The US was ranked fourth with 35.1 per cent of women led businesses, followed by New Zealand at fifth position and Russia at position six with 31.8 per cent and 31.2 per cent respectively. Business ownership rate is lowest in Saudi Arabia with only an average of only 1.6 per cent business owners being women. (Source:

On the downside, these markets still performed poorly in the overall outlook, due to unfavourable factors such as: poor support for small and medium-sized enterprises, low financial inclusion, bad corporate governance, fewer opportunities for women to rise in the workplace as business leaders due to limited access to tertiary education, and higher barriers to business.

According to, in Africa and other low-income economies, the study reports having found that women are "driven-by-necessity" to become entrepreneurs due to a combination of unfavourable factors like poorly performing economies, low education achievements, or apathetic governments. Women in the Middle East and Africa were behind in terms of women's advancement outcomes in spaces of business leadership and professional and technical fields.

It is apparent that there is still a lot of work to be done in the African environment to facilitate the progress of female entrepreneurs. Whilst African countries are present on this list, the actual performance in figures are not encouraging. We need to move from a place where women are ‘driven-by-necessity’ to start businesses, to a point where women and girls are educated and empowered enough to qualify and secure job opportunities that enable them attain financial freedom whilst ensuring for their career progression into leadership positions. We need to advance towards an environment where women-owned businesses are enabled to grow and succeed, not stifled and choked out of existence.

We can only achieve this by ensuring that the case of the woman and young girl are visible and defended in the rooms where the policies and laws that shape her future are created. We must continue promoting and facilitating the growth of women who are wavering the storm to be present and prominent in positions and industries where women are marginalized and excluded.

This responsibility lies on us as women. If we do not fight for our cause. Who will?


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