Empowering Women in Developing Countries

As women entrepreneurship plays an important role in the development and growth of
developed countries, the importance of promoting women in economic activities is being
increasingly realized in all developing countries, too. Empowering women by bringing them
into the mainstream of development and by improving their economic status and providing
them with new employment opportunities for income generation, self-employment and
entrepreneurship in different socio-economic sectors is noticeable.

Experience demonstrates that
there are a large number of women in most developing countries, capable of and willing to be
involved in economic activities. An important tool of women empowerment is micro credit,
which has been accepted as an effective tool for poverty alleviation and an approach to
development. Micro credits have become exceptionally popular especially in development
economies. "A specific solution for solving women's difficulties in obtaining financing has
been micro financing. Micro finance appears therefore to offer a "win-win" solution, where both
financial institutions and poor clients benefit (Murdoch, 1999). "

Women in Africa today represent 52% of population that is 805 million. Therefore, they should
be seriously considered and investment made towards their education as well as in their
employment in the formal sector of the economy. Micro credits are especially important for
starting their own businesses, considering the increasing interest among women who tend to
become or already are entrepreneurs. Studies of Yoruba women in Nigeria, has disclosed all of
the attributes of women entrepreneurs. These women have been engaged in commercial or
trading activities since pre-colonial times (Akinwumi, 2000). Akinwumi mentioned two types of
women entrepreneurs: "Aljapa" (who are itinerant traders) and "Alarobo" (who are described as
petty traders). Actually, they are described as very prudent businesswomen. These women have
started to take important political positions in their environments, so increasing their status
and positions due to the wealth gained through trading activities. Interestingly, these women
entrepreneurs started micro or small businesses with minimum finances and without sufficient
knowledge about new businesses. This research also shows that women develop their
businesses but mostly in informal sector with certain exceptions.

According to United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2004, it could have been concluded that
Africa has only 6% of female work force on higher positions, like managers and executives in
larger companies. In addition, 23% of women in Africa work in service branches and 5% had
employed in industry. Namely, women in Africa, work in agriculture and in food production
and much less in non-agricultural branches. This is understandable, because there is on the one
side the deficit of food in many African countries and on the other side, there is woman's need
to support and to help family to survive. Correspondingly, women do very hard work without
specified working hours on the estate, by doing household work, selling on the market, etc.
After that, African women still did not gain respect in society which they, by their work
engagement, deserve.

Beside difficult working conditions, African women face another problem. According to
statistical data from, Addis Ababa-based Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) – provide
around 58% of all African women are HIV infected (Akinwumi, O, 2000).
problem, a number of women still manage to fight for greater rights and to take part in politics
in their countries. These women have demonstrated their abilities and showed that they should
be seriously considered as important in the political and economic spheres in their societies.
Therefore, nongovernmental organizations around the world are now creating and implementing
projects to encourage entrepreneurship as a pathway out of poverty. Many programs specifically
target women in Third World countries. This organization has helped dozens of low-income
women start their own businesses.

Read more about this topic in the book, "Entrepreneurship: Theoretical and Practical Guide on All Aspects for Starting Successful Small Business" (Paperback), 306 pages, 2006.