Boosting women-owned businesses in e-commerce could drive value up to $15 billion

The need to support women-owned enterprises has been emphasized since time immemorial. Different initiatives have been put in place to boost these businesses and see them thrive in the e-commerce sector. These efforts have paid off in various ways but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

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The e-commerce sector is among those thriving across the continent with big players like Jumia dominating. According to statistics from Statista, by 2020, the revenue generated by online shopping in Africa was estimated to increase by some 32 per cent compared to the previous year, reaching 16 billion euros.

Driving towards inclusion in digital spaces would require more digital penetration of women seeing that they still lag behind. Despite efforts to boost women-owned businesses, they continue to confront difficulties such as fewer employees and poor sales, resulting in little development.

Delayed action towards gender equality costs companies $3 billion each year. Efforts to encourage digital penetration as a whole have been underway to ensure that more people have access to digital services.

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Ways to boost women-owned businesses

Increasing women’s e-commerce success will need greater training, improved financing choices, and assistance in entering higher-value areas. Here are a few strategies to help them grow and thrive according to the International Financial Corporation report.

Collect sex-disaggregated data. Targeting women-owned businesses requires understanding which sectors women operate in and the barriers they face. Sex disaggregated data can help platforms better understand women sellers and inform opportunities to enhance platform features and services that can help them succeed.

Leverage platform financing. Women are less likely to apply for financing through e-commerce platforms and other emerging fintech options. Just 7% of women received a loan via Jumia, compared to 11% of men, despite their higher likelihood of being approved.

Educate women on paid promotions. Currently, men are 12 percentage points more likely than women to take advantage of paid offerings such as advertisements, which could help boost sales.

Boost training offerings. When asked about Jumia services that they found most helpful in the last 12 months, 48% of women, versus 40% of men, not only cited training but indicated higher demand for future offerings.

Encourage entry into high-value sectors. Women performed well in segments like electronics where they are often
under-represented in online stores, suggesting e-commerce can help lower barriers to entry in high-value sectors.

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