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Women Still Doing Worse in the Online Environment, But There’s Hope

Last year this Newsletter reported on the lack of investment in Women-owned digital economy companies in Africa.  The African ecommerce market could benefit by around $14.5 billion if the number of women selling on online platforms achieves parity with men, according to a new report from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in partnership with the European Commission. Researchers interviewed sellers and ecommerce experts, conducted surveys with men and women selling online in Kenya, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire, and analysed data from Jumia, one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the continent. They found that ecommerce platforms can support women to grow and thrive in the sector by collecting gender-disaggregated data, leveraging platform financing, educating women on paid promotions, boosting training offerings, and encouraging entry into high-value sectors.

While women-owned businesses make up 31% of the businesses on Jumia in Côte d’Ivoire, and 51% each in Kenya and Nigeria, women are more likely to own micro-enterprises, have fewer employees, and see lower individual sales, the report says. The individual average sales for women are lower than men, partly due to the COVID pandemic. The first year of the pandemic resulted in a 39% drop in sales for women-owned businesses, compared to a 28% drop in men-owned businesses. Reversing this would be important to ensure women can compete in the digital economy after the pandemic. The report indicates that this is because there are more women in high-competition fields like beauty products, where it is hard for individuals to distinguish themselves. The report also finds that Jumia, Checkers, Sixty60, Konga, and Kilimall platforms have made Africa’s online shopping flourish.

Alastair Tempest

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