Driving Women Empowerment through Entrepreneurship in East Africa
In recent years, the empowerment of women through entrepreneurship has emerged as a powerful force for economic and social progress in East Africa. In this region, where cultural norms and traditional roles have often limited women's opportunities, innovative companies like Jumia have stepped up to create platforms that enable women entrepreneurs to flourish.
Women entrepreneurs in East Africa face a number of challenges, including limited access to capital, education, and networks. They are also exposed to cultural norms and traditional roles that can be a barrier to their entrepreneurial success.
By venturing into entrepreneurial pursuits, women gain financial independence, build self-confidence, and become agents of their destiny. Through their businesses, they also become drivers of employment, empowering others in their communities.
The transformative impact of women-led businesses extends beyond economics. Women entrepreneurs serve as role models, inspiring younger generations to believe in their potential and pursue their passions. This ripple effect of empowerment cultivates a more inclusive and progressive society.
Overcoming Challenges and Fostering Belief
While the rise of women entrepreneurs in East Africa is commendable, they still encounter formidable setbacks on their path to success. One of the primary challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the region is sustaining their self-belief, often perpetuated by societal norms. Many cultures dictate that a woman's place is solely at home, which limits their potential for growth. Jumia has played a crucial role in addressing this issue by fostering a culture of non-discrimination; Female entrepreneurs are warmly welcomed to join the platform as vendors and even delivery agents. Such successes are well celebrated thus setting examples for others to follow.
By providing visibility and spotlighting successful women, Jumia breaks stereotypes, instills confidence in aspiring entrepreneurs, creating a ripple effect that encourages more women to take the plunge. A notable example is Babrah Kabareheila Rachael who was our 1st female delivery agent in Uganda, as well as Irene Sebuliba, a restaurant owner vending on Jumia Food.
Limited financial resources is another significant barrier, hindering many talented women from turning their ideas into reality. Jumia has extended its support to entrepreneurs inclusive of Women by introducing Jumia Lending in Kenya and Uganda. Partnering with service providers, this program offers financing options to vendors, allowing them to invest in their businesses and propel growth. This financial inclusion initiative demonstrates Jumia's commitment to becoming a holistic partner in women's entrepreneurial journey. Entrepreneurs like Mercy Karimi Munene have since seen significant growth in their business by leveraging low interest loans through the Jumia Lending program.
Partnerships and Knowledge Building:
Jumia understands that knowledge and education are vital for women to thrive in the digital marketplace. The fear of using technology or lack of knowledge about the online business model can be significant deterrents to women entrepreneurs. To overcome these challenges, Jumia has set up Vendor Hubs, a channel for training and support. Through weekly training sessions, women entrepreneurs receive the guidance they need to navigate the platform and process orders effectively.
Furthermore, the company collaborates with government agencies and international organizations to extend support, thereby creating a network that fosters growth and learning. UNDP partnership with Jumia Uganda that started in 2019 to connect informal vendors to customers, create jobs with a focus on women and youth, decongest urban centers, promote digital literacy and e-commerce sector development in Uganda.
Impact on Local Communities:
The impact of women-led businesses is especially profound in rural communities where most women entrepreneurs try to juggle business responsibilities with family commitments. To ease the daily struggles of these women, Jumia’s presence empowers them to focus on business growth and prosperity. The platform's availability becomes crucial, as it often becomes the sole option for communities with limited access to fairly priced commodities and delivery options.
Furthermore, these communities often have limited access to retail so e-commerce becomes even more relevant. It opens opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs through the JForce program which contributes to the adoption of e-commerce in these communities. Through the JForce program, women can earn commissions for sales on the platform.
The efforts of Jumia, in driving women empowerment through entrepreneurship highlight the immense potential of digital platforms to uplift communities and create positive change. By providing opportunities, support, and resources, Jumia has become a catalyst for women entrepreneurs in East Africa, ultimately contributing to the region's economic growth and transformation.
As other businesses and governments follow suit, the journey towards achieving gender equity and empowering women entrepreneurs in East Africa will undoubtedly continue to gain momentum.
Regional Chief Operations Officer, East Africa, Jumia
Dorah Bazirake joined Jumia in 2018 as Head of Customer Experience Jumia Uganda. In 2019, she took on the mantle of Chief Operations Officer (COO) steering Customer and Vendor Operations alongside Information Technology teams. Dorah is now the Regional COO East Africa focusing on Kenya and Uganda.
Prior to Jumia, Dorah worked at Standard Chartered Bank where she was in charge of Service Quality for Consumer Banking across the UG Branch Network. An alumnus of Makerere University, a graduate of Information Science with post-graduate training in Client Experience, Information Systems Management, and Leadership.