COVID-19 and Women-Led MSMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Examining the impact, responses, and solutions

This study aims to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women-led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in 13 African countries. It also seeks to appraise public-and private-sector interventions in sub-Saharan Africa, and to offer financial and non-financial solutions for financial institutions and development partners to consider. The report hopes to contribute to further strengthening of outcomes for micro- and small enterprises, especially those led by women.

The study's offers the following key findings:

  1. Over 90 percent of MSMEs across sub-Saharan Africa, especially those led by women, are suffering harsh economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Women-led MSMEs entered the pandemic with lower rates of financial inclusion than male-led MSMEs, and the pandemic exacerbated these trends.
  3. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, over 90 percent of MSMEs still plan to maintain or expand their businesses over the next six to18 months.
  4. Few financial institutions offer products or support services specifically designed to fully include women entrepreneurs.

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