Sierra Leone’s women represent a large untapped market as emerging business leaders. 52.8% of our youth population are women. Investment in entrepreneurship targeting female as well as male youth is critical to ensure Sierra Leone can harness its demographic dividend.
Entrepreneurship is important from the perspective of job creation, private sector development, and wealth creation. Women’s participation in entrepreneurship can enhance the expansion of these economic goods and simultaneously lead to less inequality.
Businesses owned and managed by women are different from businesses owned and managed by men. The gender specialisation that appears in the labour market is reflected in entrepreneurship as well. Whether this reflects preferences or is the result of constraints placed on women is uncertain.
Increasing women’s participation in entrepreneurship necessitates improved access to credit facilities, and investment in sectors with high job-multiplier effects, including Information and Communications, Technology (ICT), manufacturing, agriculture and agro-industries in order to generate employment and spur inclusive growth.
Sierra Leone’s private sector is characterised by a large number of micro-enterprises, official estimates indicate that only 5 percent of the economic workforce is in paid formal sector. This means that 95 percent of the economy is in the informal sector.
Approximately 84 percent of rural women and 63 percent of urban women operate micro-enterprises such as small-scale farming, table-top trading, artisanal mining, and small-scale fishing.
Avenues by which small business owners can acquire much needed business skills, loan finance and other key financial services are not well developed; demand for business management skills goes unmet.
During one week each November, thousands of events and competitions in 170 countries inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors. Powered by the Kauffman Foundation, the initiative is supported by dozens of world leaders and a network of more than 15,000 partner organisations. GEW is held November 12-18, 2018.
Innovation SL Limited is the affiliate of GEN Global in Sierra Leone (GEN SL) and the national host of GEW Sierra Leone 2018. GEN SL and Innovation SL together with their key partners are organising a range of activities for GEW in Sierra Leone. One of these will be specifically focused on women in entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone.
Dare 2 Aspire – Women in Entrepreneurship
Innovation SL’s Pitch Night has emerged as the country’s most successful gathering of entrepreneurs.
Dare 2 Aspire – a dedicated women entrepreneurs’ Pitch Night will focus attention on the importance of women’s potential to contribute to the development of the country’s economy.
It will consist of:
A pitch night consisting of a panel of women entrepreneurs and women pitchers.
A mini expo of women owned businesses
Financial inclusion clinic for women entrepreneurs
Female Entrepreneur’s pitch night
Junior Pitch: 4-6 schoolgirls get the opportunity to pitch to the panel. This would act as an educational opportunity in that the pitchers would gain experience in developing a viable idea, putting together a pitch PowerPoint, and presenting to a panel. This could be an effective in-road to encouraging young women to think seriously about entrepreneurship as a career and encouraging schools and students to consider Pitch Night Clubs in schools, as part of a business studies curriculum.
Senior Pitch: 4-6 young women (18-35). 4-6 female entrepreneurs at different stages of the entrepreneurial life cycle pitching to a panel of female pioneers from Sierra Leone's professional sphere.
A mini expo of women-owned businesses
A mini women-owned trade fair will allow female business owners to meet prospective new clients, network and showcase their goods and services.
A financial inclusion clinic for women entrepreneurs
Representatives from banks, women focused grants and funding aimed at women will provide expert advice to women on enhancing access to finance – including credit history, providing collateral, proving creditworthiness, raising finance, accessing grants and funding.