The Covid-19 pandemic has forced Africa’s women entrepreneurs to rethink how they run their businesses, organize their workspaces, and manage employees. They have had to innovate and adapt to new, restrictive and challenging market realities.
The shift includes remote working and introducing a raft of new technology, tools, and digital platforms to connect effectively with customers and employees.
To provide practical guidance for women entrepreneurs adapting for the changes already in motion, the Lionesses of Africa, a network of trailblazing women entrepreneurs, has launched the 100 Lionesses ‘Future of Work’ playbook. 100 Lionesses is an initiative of Lionesses of Africa that celebrates 100 leading African women entrepreneurs. The African Development Bank is supporting the production of this digital tool for women entrepreneurs through its Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).
The second in a series, the playbook provides practical business advice and peer insights to help women enterprises manage the transition to the future of work. Now, the future of work is about how we adapt to new ways of working, communicating, interacting and collaborating in constantly changing business environments. It features 24 leading African women entrepreneurs sharing hacks and experiences across five key dimensions: strategy; leadership and vision; technology and systems; people and teams; and new ways of working. It also offers a practical roadmap for Africa’s women entrepreneurs and key lessons, such as harnessing communications, developing a resilient supply chain, and developing hybrid work environments for businesses preparing for the future of work.
Melanie Hawken, founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa said: Our working practices, the structure of our businesses, the reorganization of our workplaces, and the practical way we communicate with and engage our employees, have changed, and continue to evolve at a faster pace than ever. As a result, we must constantly open our minds to change, to innovation, to finding solutions to new challenges – and importantly, to learning from other women entrepreneurs. The future of work is already here.”
Esther Marieme Dassanou, AFAWA manager, said: “Gone are the days of full brick and mortar businesses, or only face-to-face interaction with customers. The businesses getting ahead are ones with a strong digital presence, involved in e-commerce, and which have redesigned their systems to accommodate remote work. Looking at the glass half-full, this new work model provides great opportunities for women entrepreneurs as it allows them access to a much wider market, as well as increased productivity in some instances.”
Dassanou added “AFAWA works closely with commercial banks, meso- and microfinance institutions, equity funds and guarantee providers to develop holistic programs which include financial and non-financial services for women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. It is time to make our financial institutions part of our growth and pivoting process.”