Female Micro-Entrepreneurs

Driving the digital and financial inclusion of women micro-entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries

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About the project

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), women micro-entrepreneurs contribute substantially to household income and well-being, their communities and the national economy. Yet they face greater barriers than men when it comes to accessing opportunities and resources to start, manage and grow their business. Gendered social norms and structural inequalities exacerbate these and other barriers to women’s equal participation in the economy and society. 

Mobile phones can be a source of economic and social empowerment for micro-entrepreneurs by providing access to information, services and resources that many would not be able to access easily otherwise, especially women. However, across LMICs, female micro-entrepreneurs are less likely than male micro-entrepreneurs to own and use mobile phones, including for accessing the internet and financial services. 

To address this, the GSMA Connected Women programme launched an initiative to empower women micro-entrepreneurs through mobile phone products and services. This project includes developing and sharing research insights from 10 LMICs, and supporting mobile operators to identify, test and scale approaches to reaching women micro-entrepreneurs.

Understanding women micro-entrepreneurs’ use of mobile phones for business

This report provides new data and insights from 10 LMICs on the use of mobile phones by women micro-entrepreneurs and the challenges that prevent them from using mobile services for business. It highlights the mobile gender gaps and how barriers such as not having the right kind of handset, and low confidence or digital skills, as well as gendered social norms, tend to put women micro-entrepreneurs at a disadvantage, causing them to miss out on the benefits of mobile.

Download the full report 
Download the summary 
Download the highlights in French 

Watch the webinar

Missed our webinar? Watch the recording to learn about the key findings from our research, presented by Isabelle Carboni and Alida Taghiyeva, lead authors of the report. You’ll also hear from Greta Bull, Director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary, Chief Operating Officer of Mobilink Microfinance Bank, on what we can do to drive the digital and financial inclusion of women micro-entrepreneurs.

Watch recording 

Get in touch

Is your organisation working to drive the digital or financial inclusion of women micro-entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries?

If you’re interested in working with us or finding out more about our research, we’d love to hear from you.

Get in touch

This research and work have been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and in part by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).