The Nigerian Tech Ecosystem May Be Rigged Against Female Entrepreneurs
Over the years, the Nigerian tech ecosystem has grown to become the leader on the African continent. But that’s not to say that being a tech entrepreneur in Nigeria is something of a cakewalk — it’s actually a lot more difficult than it gets credit for.
Towards the end of 2018, The ONE Campaign and the Center for Global Development (CGD) carried out a survey of Nigerian tech firms as part of efforts to gather data on the challenges and opportunities for the tech sector.
As part of the findings of the report, it came to light that even that is not news that many tech entrepreneurs in Nigeria have it rough, perhaps no one has it more difficult that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
From the survey carried out by The ONE Campaign and CGD, it was found that tech firms employ very few women. As a matter of fact, a third of the firms sampled employed no women at all.
“Women who own or manage tech firms often face discrimination, especially in financial markets where lenders are reluctant to do business with them,” a highlight of the report read.
“One owner of a fintech company decided to stop attending investment meetings, as she believed that investors related better to men. A founder of a leading tech organisation told us that negative stereotypes associated with female programmers are also an impediment to women entering the tech sector.”
This part of the report, yet again, highlights the unsavoury trend of women entrepreneurs being neglected by a tech ecosystem that is unfairly biased towards male entrepreneurs.
The survey also suggested that most tech firms in Nigeria are small but growing, with 5 to 10 employees, and providing e-commerce, retail and health services. Many are owned or managed by young people; managers have an average of about eight years of work experience.
The data also revealed that 57 percent of Nigerian firms surveyed ranked electricity as the No.1 obstacle faced by their businesses in trying to carry out operations. The tech firms blamed electricity constraints for lost sales and money expended on generators which would have been put to better use.
Additionally, The ONE Campaign and CGD found that finance is another big problem as small tech firms in Nigeria are hampered by a lack of funding. This can be blamed on the difficulties associated with accessing credit from financial institutions or venture capital.
Lack of adequate collateral, high rates of interest, and difficult application procedures were all often cited in the survey as major constraints for Nigerian firms seeking to obtain loans.