Exploring Barriers to Growth for East African Women Entrepreneurs

Published on March 09, 2017

From March 7-8, the Hub sponsored and participated in the New Faces New Voices pre-launch event for its Survey to Explore Barriers to Growth Faced by Female Entrepreneurs in East Africa. The survey identified what sources of capital women entrepreneurs have used to get their businesses to the current stage and what modes of capital they intend to use to expand their businesses.

The report accurately captures the challenges that women entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses. We at the Hub address one of the major challenges by helping women entrepreneurs access finance. Our gender lens investing concept is a new approach to providing inclusive growth for women-owned businesses,” said Hub’s Investment Specialist, Liz Muange.


The survey polled women entrepreneurs in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. At least 71% of the women surveyed started their business from their own savings, with an average initial investment between US $1,000 and US$5,000. They then invest their earnings to grow the business. According to participating female entrepreneurs, the decision to self-finance is based on a belief that they do not have the requirements to access funding or that they fear accessing external funding when they suspect that their business cash flows will be irregular or unpredictable.

Launch attendees identified with the findings of the report.

It is encouraging to know that my business challenges are not specific to me and it’s good to know there is support to bridge the gaps through special/tailored funds for creatives through organizations such as Heva fund,” said MS. Wangari Nyanjui Founder Peperuka.

The Hub participated in a panel discussion comprised of service providers that cater to the female entrepreneur ecosystem. The service providers also agreed with the findings of the report.


In my view the research introduces important additional perspectives on the challenges being faced by micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises as a whole and better contextualizes the specific experiences of women entrepreneurs.  I can only hope that further analysis can be done to build on these findings to inform the strategies being implemented in both the public and private sector to stimulate and support women-led enterprises,” said Capital Markets Authority Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Paul Muthaura pictured above.


The report is unique because it sheds light on the financial and non-financial barriers that constrain women entrepreneurs from scaling up their business,” said Graça Machel Trust Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Nomsa Daniels pictured above.

The report informs the upcoming inaugural Women Advancing Africa Forum (WAA) scheduled to take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on August 10-12, 2017.

The purpose of the survey report was to:

  • Provide the entrepreneurial ecosystem with more information regarding the challenges women face in business
  • Encourage financial institutions to test the business case for investing in women entrepreneurs by actively pursuing female clients
  • Promote customization of products and services to cater to this segment
  • Support capacity building programs through women’s networks that provide linkages to various financial services, thereby improving financial literacy and increasing confidence.


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