UN Women estimates that during the first month of the pandemic, informal workers lost an average of 60 percent of their income: with losses as high as 81% in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
In low-income countries pre-pandemic, just one in four businesses were owned by women, and their access to financial products and services was often limited – even though this is key to help entrepreneurs cope with crises. Combined with limited mobility, social distancing, and an estimated 30-40% higher rate of unpaid care – Covid has been a perfect storm to disrupt women’s enterprises.
But what about women-led businesses that have managed to stay afloat? How have they done it and what can we learn from programmes that support women’s enterprises?
The Youth Participation and Employment (YPE) programme is a four-year programme begun in December 2018 in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia with support from the Danish Arab Partnership Programme. It works with a wide range of national partners to mobilize vulnerable young people, increase their skills and address challenges to getting and holding a job (including gender inequality). Prior to the pandemic, YPE supported entrepreneurship and job creation, using digital means to create awareness of new opportunities and training.
The Empower Youth for Work (EYW) programme, aimed at the socio-economic empowerment of youth in rural, climate affected areas, focuses on co-creating opportunities for young women’s voices in enabling, youth-led environments in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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