Barriers Faced By Women-Owned Businesses: Perspectives of Women from East African Community

Lucia Mary Mbithi


Equal access to economic opportunities by both women and men contributes to better development outcomes. Globally, women enterprises comprise about a third of all enterprises and contribute significantly to employment generation and development. The same is true for the Partner States of the East African Community (EAC) countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda e.g. in Kenya, Women account for about 56 percent of all entrepreneurs in the country. Most of the businesses in the EAC region remain largely informal, with lower earnings and no social security.

For a long time, gender inequality has remained a global development challenge, with gender equality being a development objective itself and also a means to achieve the equitable and sustainable development as well. The World Economic Forum (WEF, 2012) Gender Gap Index (GGI), which measures countries gender-based gaps in access to resources and opportunities shows that EAC countries have some catch up to do with respect to equal access to resources and opportunities for both women and men (Table 1). The gender gap shows the ratio of women to men and thus the larger the indicator score (given in percentage), the lower the gap between men and women in the specific indicator.

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