Access to quality jobs and assets bring multiple benefits to women, their communities, and economies. Empowering women drives economic growth, reduces poverty, and boosts shared prosperity. However, women in sub-Saharan Africa continue to face barriers that limit their ability to participate fully in economic activities.

The region’s average gender gap stands at 32 percent across economic participation, access to education, health care, and political participation. These gaps are even wider in fragile and conflict affected countries, exacerbated by past or ongoing conflicts. Key gender gaps in sub-Saharan Africa include a $40 billion small business credit gap for women and a 15 percent mobile phone ownership gap..

These disparities are damaging the region’s economic growth—but also represent an opportunity for the private sector to do more. The losses from gender inequality in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated at $2.5 trillion, according to a study that looked at the period between 1995 and 2014.

IFC works with private sector partners to create economic opportunities—and remove barriers—for women and women-run businesses across sub-Saharan Africa. Through a combination of investments and advisory services, IFC works with companies to promote women’s participation in the labor force and in leadership positions. IFC also partners with financial institutions and other businesses to boost women’s entrepreneurship by advancing loans to women-owned businesses and supporting women’s participation in global supply chains..

IFC and its partners are demonstrating how empowering women helps companies and economies achieve better results.