Women Can Add $14.57 Billion to E-Commerce in Africa, say IFC

Africa’s e-commerce market could grow by more than $14.5 billion between 2025-2030 according to an IFC report published today. The report finds this can be achieved by increasing the number of women selling on online platforms and by providing them with better training and financial support to help them match sales made by men.

The report, Women and e-commerce in Africa, found that COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of e-commerce and digital entrepreneurship in Africa and that more women have embraced digital business. However, it also noted that more can be done to promote women’s entrepreneurship and help women overcome e-commerce challenges. For example, e-commerce marketplace platforms are well-positioned to target women-owned businesses with training, and to encourage women’s participation in higher-value segments such as electronics. Women could also strengthen their businesses by taking advantage of emerging fintech offerings, such as in-platform loans, which women currently access at much lower rates than men. The report leveraged data from leading e-commerce firm Jumia, as well as from surveys of vendors in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Speakig during the announcement of the resulting, Juliet Anammah, Jumia Group Head of Institutional Affairs, said,that it was absolutely essential for women to be factored in, given the future of e-commerce. Africa is just at the start of its e-commerce growth trajectory. “Now is the time to ensure women entrepreneurs are the leaders of Africa’s digital journey,” she said.

The report shows that women comprise half of all active e-commerce vendors in Africa, though they tend to run smaller-scale businesses and feature prominently in high-competition, low-value segments. On the Jumia platform, just over a third of businesses in Côte d’Ivoire and over half in Kenya and Nigeria are owned by women.

Supporting women entrepreneurs has taken on renewed urgency since the outbreak of COVID-19. In the first year of the pandemic, women-owned businesses in the three countries studied suffered reduced sales of 39 percent, compared to only a 28 percent drop for men-owned businesses.