How can we enable the environment, with an emphasis on women and youth entrepreneurs?
Africa needs to clearly identify actions to address the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises in Africa, says the Director-General of the UN Women Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Oulimata Sarr.
“How can we enable the environment, with an emphasis on women and youth entrepreneurs?” she asked, making three suggestions.
- Proactively make women and the youth part of the public procurement supply chain. Kenya, she said, dedicates 30% of its public procurement budget to this end. She urged other countries to do the same or create different models to the same end. The private sector should be encouraged to follow suit to create supplier diversity.
- Introduce gender-responsible budgeting, dedicating a percentage of the budget for women and youth spending. In this regard there are several centres of excellence, including Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa.
- Build climate-resilient agriculture, which puts women at the heart of food security.
She highlighted other areas of importance in building SMEs in Africa. These included capacity development and skills creation, access to finance, access to markets and access to information.
Key enablers of a dynamic SME and start up ecosystem include technology, energy, water, road and data. “You cannot make public policy if you don’t know your numbers.”