Monday, 28 November 2022

In Technolgy

Digital Technology helping Batswana Female Entrepreneurs

Botswana is fast growing in the use of digital technologies for business, and Batswana female entrepreneurs on the frontier of this movement. There are arguments however, that say digital literacy is very low in Botswana, considering the number of users of internet, there is a change due to the need to communicate during the series of lockdowns during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

The World Economic Forum, reported that "Africa has the world’s highest numbers of female entrepreneurs. And according to the Mastercard Index, Botswana in particular, has the second highest number of female business owners in the world, just behind Uganda. Botswana’s female business owners have shown an increase over the past years from ranking 36% in the MasterCard Index in 2019 to 38.5% in 2020".

As Africa, and Botswana specifically, gears itself to building back better post COVID-19, digital technologies provide new pathways for entrepreneurial empowerment for women. Women’s digital entrepreneurship is a key driver of socio-economic development in Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa in general and indeed the world. The female economy is said to be “the world’s largest emerging market, with the potential to add $12trillion to global GDP by 2025”.

Digital transformation offers unique opportunities for entrepreneurial women and opens them up to a digital world where access to information, innovative business ideas and employment opportunities are at their grasp. Technology and innovation play a vital role in achieving gender equality in a world inundated with gender-related economic and social biases and challenges. The opportunities provided by technology and ICTs for women entrepreneurs are in digital commerce, digital services and other novel entrepreneurial opportunities that will continue to unfold. It is therefore vital that access to ICTs are provided to women so as to ensure that digital solutions and the efficiencies they provide enable women to thrive in their micro, small and/or medium-sized entrepreneurial ventures.

Botswana’s burgeoning women entrepreneurs are important drivers and contributors of the country’s sustainable socio-economic growth. Innovative business ventures with digital solutions are important in a post-pandemic era and gender-sensitive national domestic policies that consider gender disparities will ensure the equitable inclusion of women in Botswana’s developmental strategy. The African Union’s Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment takes particular note of including women in the developmental strategy of the African continent.

How can Botswana, and Africa at large, move towards gender equality through digital entrepreneurship where pre-existing socio-economic inequalities are seeping into the digital space? This can be done through: digital literacy interventions, targeted investment programmes, gender sensitive domestic policies and digital cooperation.

There is a dearth of disaggregated data to understand the extent of the current gender digital divide in Botswana. Globally, there are 433 million women who are unconnected to ICTs and 165 million less females who are owners of a mobile phone in comparison to men. There are also 250 million more men who use the internet compared to women.

Digital literacy and access to ICTs is an avenue towards digital skilling for women and girls both in urban and rural areas; and starting this at an early age will shape their use of digital tools to support their micro, small or medium-sized enterprises.

While women entrepreneurs in Botswana and Africa continues to increase, one of the challenges they face is a lack of sufficient capital to start, sustain and scale their businesses which has resulted in lower profits in both the short and long-term as compared to their male counterparts.

Efforts such as those by the African Development Bank’s Gender Equality Trust Fund – targeted investment mechanisms – are necessary to counteract the lack of financial investment women entrepreneurs in Africa face. However, more of this targeted approach and support is necessary from private sector investors, including tech companies, to invest in female digital entrepreneurship.

Women in Africa, including in Botswana in particular, are part of the world’s largest emerging market – the global female economy. As such they are an important resource who should be supported in the ways highlighted above to harness technology and digitalisation so that they chart their own digital entrepreneurial paths towards gender equality in the digital future.

Sources: WEF

Cabanga Media Group publishes of thoughtful economic and business commentary magazines and online media, in several African markets, that include South Africa, Botswana, East Africa Community, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Zambia.