the impact of COVID-19
outbreak on businesses varies depending on the industry, there's one group that has been hit particularly hard in
the world; women-owned small-scale businesses.
A recent survey carried out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates how businesses
have been impacted by the pandemic. For instance, the number of female-owned the business has fallen from 60% in January to 47% in July 2020 and male-owned
business from 67% to 62% during the same period of time. This means females fell
by 13 points and males by 5 points. According to
International Tarde Centre, more than 90% of women entrepreneurs reported a
decrease in sales during the pandemic and have less
than three months of cash flow to survive
compared to 52% of men-led companies.
Such figures imply that women entrepreneurs were most affected
by the stay-at-home orders issued early in the pandemic. After the closure of ‘’non-essential’
businesses (owned by most women), women were left with no option but to stay
home and concentrate on their families. Due
to the increased domestic responsibilities like homeschooling, child care, and
household chores, they would not get time to do other works which could earn
them a living. To add to that, research
conducted by the Facebook survey/inc.com, found out that31% of women had spent more time on
domestic tasks since the pandemic started, compared to 26% of men. This affected
their ability to focus on work thus a decrease in their growth.
As a result, women-led businesses were disproportionately
hurt by the stifling effects of shutdowns, and more likely to close than
those run by men.
In Uganda, it is reported that 34.8% of businesses are owned by women which makes
East Africa the top-performing country in Africa in terms of women entrepreneurship. It is also a country with the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs with 90.5 percent of women
borrowing and saving money to start-up small profitable businesses with
as little as what their pocket can afford. These small profitable businesses include; Salons, Fast food restaurant, Selling Clean Water, Tomato farming, Poultry farming, second-hand clothes, hawking, Photocopying, and Printing services.
It was unfortunate that on 30th March 2020, the president of Uganda, his excellency
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni imposed a lockdown due to the pandemic that hit the
world. This included the closure of non-essential businesses (owned by most
women) apart from that selling foodstuff who were allowed to operate.
From that day, this has affected business people
especially women since they carry the highest percentage of entrepreneurism
in the country. It has been hard for men to regain their businesses, but harder
for women because of unavoidable circumstances such as; businesses slowing
down, some closing, and others have been forced to change businesses.
Joyce Atuhaire, the director of operations Agro
Tourism Association said, “the pandemic affected women differently, some have lost businesses, others
started new ones especially those dealing with perishable products due to lack
The following were also various ways
how women entrepreneurs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:
entrepreneurs feel that increased family care demands have reduced their
ability to focus their attention on their businesses, hurting their ability to
generate income. For instance, women employees, especially during
required home-based work were more inclined to resign due to increasing
restrictions in the movement have led to more incidences of intimate partner and
family violence, hurting the productivity of firms as they struggle to deal
with its mental and economic impact on their work and employees.
In addition, companies
do not know how to address the mental health and well-being of employees during
the pandemic. More than one-third of women-owned businesses have expressed increased anxiety
due to the uncertainty of COVID 19 and concerns on how to support the health
and wellbeing of employees.
Together, these factors could affect women’s
opportunities to cope with the crisis and widen differences in health and capital when the
pandemic fades. Restrictions in the movement have increased family violence
thus affecting both the physical and mental health of family members especially
women. These differences affect the performance and focus of women at work(business)
down the economic recovery.
Deepening economic gaps caused
by the COVID-19 pandemic between
men and women will jeopardize a fast return from a recession through huge gaps
in productivity. The
pervasive inequality could further widen due to the impact of the current
crisis. However, there are some solutions to that. These
Support home-based work, care options, and flexible work
schedules. Recruit, retain, and promote women during and after the crisis to
prevent loss of talent.
women entrepreneurs access to working capital and insurance products to help stabilize their
the safety of employees and suppliers by addressing violence
the company level.
digital infrastructure to boost home-based work opportunities and mobile
internet access, where women scientifically lag behind men. Innovative solutions should be developed and simplified
digital solutions to adapt
their business models to be more inclusive during the pandemic because the pandemic has revealed digital
connectivity is a critical element for business continuity.
female-owned businesses are most affected, they are more likely to face a big
challenge in future investment plans compared to their counterparts (males).
However, with the above solutions especially digital connectivity (can help
them to work from home, sell their products easily, and it is time-saving) can enable
them to continue with their work.
in women's economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, internet access, and use due to affordability
of ICT tools, poverty eradication, inclusive economic growth and
sustainable development. Women make enormous contributions to economies by
participating in businesses, and agriculture, as entrepreneurs,
employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.
Photo: Picture from the African Women in the Informal Sector-
Babirye Roseline, program officer Gender and
ICT policy Advocacy