We all know the pandemic has been difficult for small businesses. It’s no surprise that is especially true for women-owned small businesses who have reported an increase in closure rates since last year, compared to little to no change from male counterparts. In Meta’s recent State of Small Business Report, the global closure rate of small businesses dropped to 19% in July 2022, with the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa reporting higher closure rates 33% and 24% respectively.
While supporting female entrepreneurs with our wallets is vital – and I encourage everyone to do so – there is more that we can be doing at the macro level to help empower and uplift women-owned businesses.
Here are three ways to support women-owned businesses all year long.
Providing access to curated education and training is a key way to cultivate the growth of women-owned small businesses. Knowledge is power. From publishing guides, providing resource hubs, hosting financial literacy training, along with other educational opportunities, there are many ways to boost knowledge and help women with their careers and business.
At Meta, we’ve expanded the #SheMeansBusiness program to address the ongoing financial literacy gap we see between women and men. Last year we introduced a training component on business resiliency through financial education in Nigeria, South Africa and Senegal, with the additional modules aimed at improving female business owners’ financial management skills, whilst addressing challenges that women entrepreneurs face, such as access to capital. This year, we have trained over 20 000 SMBs across Sub-Saharan Africa both physically and virtually.
Connecting Women to Women
Another opportunity comes by way of connecting women-owned small businesses with each other and with organizations that support their success. Explore partnerships with organizations and other businesses – whether it’s to host a community conversation or to broker a business deal, there is so much to gain by working together.
For example, businesswoman Tamburai Chirume, Co-founder of ONEOFEACH and The African Academy of Fashion located in Cape Town. The academy focuses on providing practical and hands-on-training to equip women with basic principles, techniques and knowledge to empower them to utilize the skills of constructing clothing and accessories to start their own fashion businesses. Since launching the academy in 2019, Tamburai has trained over 70 women owned SMBs.
Share the Stories
Finally, it’s important we also recognize and celebrate women’s resilience by seeking out and sharing their stories. It’s great that we as individuals and brands spotlight women on International Women’s Day or during Women’s History Month – but we should be celebrating the amazing entrepreneurs in our communities all year long, particularly during the crucial festive sales season. I’d encourage everyone to find women leaders who inspire you – I promise, they aren’t in short supply!
Take for example small businesses like Love Kinks, founded by businesswoman and creator Sinovuyo Mondliwa, the business is rooted in encouraging and supporting women with their natural hair care and journey. Native Nosi, founded by businesswoman Mokgadi Mabela is committed to preserving the declining bee population in South Africa.
Remember that it’s vital to support female entrepreneurs all year long. In addition to shopping, we should also be helping them in other ways – including education, facilitating connections and sharing their stories whenever we can.
By Derya Matras, Vice President Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Meta