Women entrepreneurs are employers and engines of economic growth in cities across Africa, but reliable information on women is in short supply. Melinda Gates notes that “…the data we do have—data that policymakers depend on—is bad. You might even call it sexist.” Marron’s Litmus team is helping to change that. They are collaborating with Lionesses of Africa to provide reliable, timely data and insights into women entrepreneurs and their businesses and give Africa’s women entrepreneurs a voice in shaping resources targeted to them. The first study shares insights derived from a survey of 913 women leading businesses in South Africa, representing a wide range of business types.
Findings underscore the manifold challenges COVID-19 presented. Only a few entrepreneurs were able to access government COVID-19 business assistance or secure external financing when needed. Despite the blows that COVID-19 dealt, the survey reveals optimism. A majority of respondents anticipate that their businesses will recover within two years and are planning for near-term hires. A key finding is that businesses with a digital presence were more resilient during COVID-19; those that made the majority of their sales through an app or online marketplace were less likely to be affected by COVID-19 and had more optimistic projections about their future revenues.