Five reasons why we should invest in women-owned businesses

In the pursuit of inclusive economic growth, one of the most important avenues to explore is the support of women-owned businesses. Across the globe, women entrepreneurs are not just contributors to economies, they are agents of change, driving innovation, creating jobs, and fostering resilient communities.

About Pharmalys: A women-owned clinical research organisation (CRO)

At Pharmalys, we are incredibly proud to be a woman-owned organisation. Our CEO and founder, Marieme Ba, is a Senegalese entrepreneur and scientist who founded the CRO with a strong commitment to improving health research through data excellence. Marieme’s story of success as a female entrepreneur is a testament to the importance of women-owned enterprises in driving positive change, particularly in underserved communities.

Pharmalys was founded in 2008 in London. Marieme understood the critical role that data plays in shaping healthcare policies, driving research initiatives, and ultimately, saving lives. One of Pharmalys’ key strengths lies in its unwavering commitment to Africa. Recognising the potential for progress on the continent, Marieme expanded the organisation’s reach, establishing a regional office in Dakar, Senegal, in 2012 which positioned the company as a leader in advancing health research and data analytics across the continent. Many years later, Pharmalys consists of a diverse team of experts, drawing talent from across the globe to form an international team fuelled by expertise with a shared mission to Count Africa In to clinical research. Read more:

Five reasons why we should invest in women-owned businesses

A recent study across Kenya and Nigeria shed light on the aspirations and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, underscoring the urgent need for investment in their ventures. The survey included over 200,000 women, revealing a common aspiration among them all; the desire to own or expand their own businesses. From fashion boutiques to culinary endeavours, the entrepreneurial spirit and drive for success was present among these women.

One: Closing the gender gap

A lack of access to start up capital and essential equipment blocks many women from achieving their entrepreneurial goals. An obstacle not unique to few individuals but in fact one that represents a systemic issue particularly prevalent across Africa – the financing gender gap. Despite the continent being home to a substantial number of women entrepreneurs, they receive only a fraction of the capital allocation to their male counterparts. This inequity stems from various factors, including limited property ownership, absence of formal credit history, and biases within lending institutions.

The consequences of this gap reverberate far beyond individual aspirations, impacting a broader economy. Globally, there exists a staggering $1.7 trillion disparity between the capital women seek and what they receive. However, by closing this gap, we have the potential to inject up to $6 trillion into the global GDP. Moreover, investing in women-owned businesses fosters community resilience, drives social progress, and fuels economic growth.

To address this systemic issue, concerted efforts are needed from governments, financial institutions, and the development community. Regulatory reforms must facilitate responsible lending to women entrepreneurs while safeguarding them from predatory practices. Investment in digital infrastructure can revolutionise credit assessment processes, enabling the inclusion of non-traditional data points.

Two: Economic Empowerment

Supporting women-owned businesses is not a mere matter of social justice; it’s a smart economic investment. Studies consistently show that women reinvest a significant portion of their income back into their families and communities, amplifying the positive impact of their economic activities. By providing women with access to resources, training, and opportunities, we unlock their potential to drive economic growth, lift societies out of poverty, and advocate for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and pro-family policies.

Three: Diversity and Innovation

Diversity breeds innovation, and women bring unique perspectives and experiences to the entrepreneurial landscape. When women are empowered to start and grow businesses, they introduce fresh ideas, products, and services that cater to diverse market needs. Embracing this diversity fuels creativity and drives competitive advantage in an increasingly dynamic global economy. As noted in a recent article by LAU Financial Group, companies led by women or gender-diverse teams are ‘21% more likely to bring in profits than companies led by all-male teams’.

Four: Job Creation and Increased Profitability

Women-owned businesses are engines of job creation, particularly in sectors traditionally underserved by male-dominated industries. By fostering an environment conducive to women entrepreneurship, we stimulate job growth, reduce unemployment, and alleviate poverty. This ripple effect extends beyond individual businesses, creating opportunities for entire communities to thrive. It has been noted that ‘increasing female leadership from 0 to 30% is linked to a 15% increase in profitability’.

Five: Resilience and Sustainability

Women entrepreneurs exhibit remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. Whether navigating economic downturns, social barriers, or environmental challenges, they demonstrate resilience at both the micro and macro levels, contributing to sustainable development and climate resilience. Regarding performance over a 10-year period, women-led companies performed 63% better than male-led companies.

Supporting women-owned businesses isn’t just a moral imperative; it is an economic imperative with far-reaching benefits. By empowering women entrepreneurs, we unleash untapped potential, drive innovation, create jobs, and foster sustainable development. It’s time to recognise the pivotal role of women in shaping economies and societies and commit to creating an inclusive ecosystem where all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, can thrive and succeed.

Milena Henderson, Digital Marketing Manager

May 2024


Bill and Melinda Gates’ white paper: Women and Equitable Growth in a Resource-Constrained World. Unleashing Capital for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa

LAU Financial Group, 7 Reasons to Invest in Women Owned Businesses and How to Get Started, October 25, 2022 []