The Harvard Center for African Studies is hosting a virtual conference on women entrepreneurship in Africa on October 1 – 2. The topic remains important, more so now than ever, as the pandemic is impacting businesses, especially women-run businesses on the African continent.
- The keynote will feature Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa.
- The four panels will provide a clearer understanding of the landscape of women entrepreneurship on the continent, identify challenges and opportunities, examine policy frameworks, and define policy actions that would position African women, leaders in global women entrepreneurship, to play a transformative role in the world’s largest emerging market.
- “We seek to challenge the mainstream narrative that African women operate largely in the informal sector or in small and medium scale enterprises. We look forward to identifying lessons that are critical to understanding this changing face of female entrepreneurship and to defining approaches that sustain and deepen this important agenda.”
- Recent studies have pointed to the huge obstacles women entrepreneurs in Africa face when building their businesses: from adverse social and cultural norms to a US$42 billion financing gap, though women operate over 40% of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. COVID-19 has added another level of challenges: the global health pandemic and an economic recession, shutdowns and stay-at-home directives that have had consequential economic impact, and a lack of economic security threatens adverse healthcare outcomes.
The Harvard University Center for African Studies is a globally recognized, interdisciplinary body committed to broadening knowledge about Africa and engagement with African perspectives through scholarship, collaboration, and dialogue.