LifestyleStartupsUK aid boosts support for African women entrepreneurs to expand businesses into global markets

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The UK is boosting support to female entrepreneurs in Africa, helping them overcome barriers to starting businesses and connecting them to global markets, announces the International Development Secretary Alok Sharma.

Africa has the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs, accounting for almost a third of all businesses on the continent. Despite this, their contributions to the economy remains low. This is because many women face barriers to growing their businesses, such as obtaining investment from banks, with almost two thirds of women in Sub-Sahara Africa without bank accounts.

Through scaling up the successful SheTrades programme, the UK will empower women in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to grow their businesses and start trading internationally.

This announcement will:

(a) Support female entrepreneurs to secure more investment through specialist business training, creating up to 3000 more jobs and helping to reduce inequality in the workplace;

(b) Create potential investment and development partnerships for women entrepreneurs;

(c) Work with governments in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to develop tailored gender-inclusive trade policies. Supporting women-owned businesses to participate in global trade helps drive economic growth and reduce poverty.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “When women are economically empowered, their whole community benefits. Africa’s full potential can only be realised if the energy and ideas of the whole population are unleashed. She Trades is an important step towards achieving that.”

Enabling women to play an equal role in the economy is essential to sustained economic growth and will help lift millions out of poverty. Creating more opportunities for women to work could add $12 trillion (or 11 per cent) to the value of the global economy by 2025 and the McKinsey Global Institute report that reducing gender inequality will boost African economies by $316 billion over the coming years.

The UK-Africa Investment Summit will highlight the visibility of businesses run by women shaping the economies of African nations today. In countries where SheTrades is already working, it has generated over £18 million of revenue.

Leonie Badger, owner of Studio Badge supported by SheTrades, said: “I have been able to connect with new and potential buyers from all over the world that helps me promote the beauty and uniqueness of Ghanaian art for my business Studio Badge. Beyond that I have received technical training and mentorship that has inspired me to dream big and gain even more confidence in my product. She Trades has been transformational for my business and I am grateful and excited for the future.”

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