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 characterszed 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.
Global Entrepreneurship Week
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 organizations. 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 is organizing 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
Women’s pitch night
Panel: 4-6 women who are successful entrepreneurs, fund managers, business development experts and donor agencies.
First Session: 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.
Second Session: 4-6 young women (18-35). These could be inclusive of more grass roots entrepreneurs traditional/ women with no formal education/women in the small towns and villages, normally overlooked, who are involved in entrepreneurial activities that are impacting their communities.
A mini expo of women owned businesses
Set up on the balcony at 232, a mini women-owned trade fair will allow them to meet prospective new clients, network and showcase their goods and services. With stands already reserved for Orange, Ecobank and Freetown Direct, we would be able to incorporate an additional seven businesses.
Financial inclusion clinic for women entrepreneurs
Representatives from banks, women focused grants and funding aimed at women can provide advice to women in 5 minute slots in a quiet corner or separate room.
- Orange Sierra Leone
- FCS Africa / CASA Program (IFC)
- Innovation SL
Official Partners (may be updated)
- Insight Magazine
- Freetown Pitch Night
- GEN SL
Francis Stevens George, GEN SL Managing Director
Memuna Forna, Editor Insight Magazine