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ICReport:
Business Environment Reforms to support women-owned businesses in ACP countries

Legal, Administrative and Policy Reforms to access finance and manage businesses

Executive Summary:

Business creation and business revenue growth is a crucial engine of economic growth and job creation. Investing in women is not only a moral imperative; it is good business. Taking action now to advance gender equality can add $13 trillion to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030. Yet, women are less likely than men to own formal micro, small- or medium-sized enterprises. Women-owned businesses are less likely to grow or have employees and have been more heavily affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The hindrances to women-owned small and medium enterprises are multidimensional and often interlinked. These gaps can be explained by legal discrimination, administrative barriers, social and cultural norms, and structural constraints that are more likely to affect women than men.

Key Findings:

  • Legal reforms are essential to promoting the growth of women-owned/led businesses. Equal opportunity starts with equal treatment under the law. Legal frameworks must be updated to ensure that ownership rights, inheritance regimes, and family codes are equally applied. This will enable women to fully access property, own land and assets, and thus access credits and grow their business.
  • While complicated and lengthy administrative procedures represent barriers to business formalisation and growth for both men and women, they might have a stronger negative effect on women-owned/led businesses due to their lower experience, exposure to markets and access to information. Reducing those administrative barriers is critical to supporting women in formalising and operating their businesses.
  • Lastly, promoting access to finance, such as through women’s credit lines or new ways of measuring credit scores, have shown positive results on womenowned/led businesses. While these are not the only necessary business reforms, they can create an enabling environment to promote women-owned/led businesses’ formalisation, growth, and sustainability while benefiting the economy.