Mastercard focuses on gender: Failure to integrate women into economies costs Africa $95 billion

Mastercard focuses on gender: Failure to integrate women into economies costs Africa $95 billion

CAPE TOWN – Mastercard put the spotlight on gender diversity and female entrepreneurship at the 28th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa during its “Together We Lead” event. 

Discussions at this event focused on challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Africa, and the role of technology in helping drive inclusive growth in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Gender inequality has been found to be costly on a macro level. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that failure to integrate women into national economies costs sub-Saharan Africa countries a combined $95 billion (R1.4 trillion) in lost productivity every year.

At this year’s “Together We Lead” event Mastercard brought together celebrated women leaders to discuss the critical role of female entrepreneurs in Africa.

Amanda Dambuza – entrepreneur and author, Lee Ann Lancaster – chief growth officer of Mama Money, and Dr Adriana Marais – physicist, technologist, astronaut candidate with the Mars One Project and founder of #ProudlyHuman, joined a panel discussion hosted by Shamina Singh, executive vice president, sustainability & president, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, to discuss the challenges faced by aspiring businesswomen across Africa.

Mastercard’s head of lab for financial inclusion Salah Goss said through their lab they had been able to help millions of women through the products they had launched to support sectors such as education, agriculture as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. 

“Kupaa, our digital payments tool to make paying school fees easier, is currently available in over 350 schools in Africa with over 160 000 students and 110 000 parents using the solution. Only by taking a partnership approach are we able to generate ideas and address local challenges relevant to underserved and unbanked populations across industries,” said Goss.

From making education, technology, and capital more accessible to encouraging cultural dialogue and overcoming gender stereotypes, the discussion focused on ways in which women’s potential could be used to unlock stronger, more sustainable economies.