October 2020

IZA DP No. 13773: Why Are Africa's Female Entrepreneurs Not Playing the Export Game? Evidence from Ghana

published as 'Africa’s Businesswomen – Underfunded or Underperforming?' in: Small Business Economics, 2024, 62 (3), 1051-1074

We explore the export performance of Africa's underperforming female entrepreneurs, using the Ghanaian ISSER-IGC panel, a comprehensive dataset of manufacturing firms for 2011–2015. Uniquely, the data provides information about the severity of key business constraints, across both male and female entrepreneurs. We find that females are less likely to export (and optimize their exporting) than their male peers. Although reduced access to finance seriously constrains the exports of female entrepreneurs, this limitation does not explain their relative inability to leverage value from exports. Consistent with related work, we find that certain social and cultural constraints, in particular constraints linked to bribes and security concerns, are more deeply felt by female entrepreneurs. This may hint at the exclusion of Africa's females (voluntarily or involuntarily) from male-dominated networks or business practices.