4 reasons why Africa is becoming the continent of the female entrepreneur
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It is often stated that women make up the ‘other 50 percent’ of the world's population and, funnily enough, a recent IMF report concluded that, in fact, women make up almost exactly half of Africa’s self-employed workforce. Recent years have also seen the emergence of the continent’s first female billionaire – Isabel Dos Santos, who also happens to be one of the youngest on the Forbes list.
Highest Labour Force participation rate:
This figure represents the percentage of working-age women that are directly employed in the labour force. Africa has one of the highest in the world at just over 63 percent. Whilst there are countless factors that could possibly account for this trend, the take home point is much more straightforward: the women of the continent are no strangers to hard work; they have the potential to grow African economies just as well as their male counterparts.
It must be admitted that female enrolment in African secondary school still lags behind men, however the gap is closing at an ever increasing rate. Since 1970, the rate of enrolment has increased from 65 percent to 80 percent in 2010. Although there are notable stories of entrepreneurs who have made it to the top without being educated, this is still the exception and not the rule, which makes it increasingly crucial that all African women receive an equal education to men. Obviously, an educated female worker will have a wider base of skills to build a successful career and compete at the global stage than someone who has not gone to school.
MORE FROM ABR ON WOMEN IN BUSINESS:
Special Feature: Women in Lenovo Programme Injects a Different Dynamic into Business
Four Secrets of women at the top
Four qualities women leaders possess and why South Africa needs them
(Slowly) Increasing political representation:
Africa and the rest of the world share the problem of underrepresenting women in political institutions. The number of female ministers standing in African parliaments has increased however, from 10 percent in 1990 to 20 percent in 2012. Whilst this is good progress, it is still not nearly as high as Ghana, which leads the way with 57 percent of its parliament made up by women.
Africa cannot do without them!
The International Labor organisation (ILO) has stated on many occasions that greater inclusion of women into the workforce has the potential to significantly reduce poverty. Furthermore, recent studies have highlighted that the exclusion of women from the workforce could potentially spell a loss of GDP by up to 30 percent. The continent simply cannot afford to let half of its talent go to waste!
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.