Cameroon: Experts weigh in on Creation of Women-led Businesses

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Panelists speak during the 9th-panel discussion organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute on the theme “Promoting the creation of women-led businesses in Cameroon”

Experts in the domain of business creation in Cameroon say it is not difficult to create businesses in the country as most people have notion but the difficulty comes from the part of operating and running these structures created.

The experts and business owners were speaking on July 14, during the 9th-panel discussion organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation on the theme: “Promoting the creation of women-led businesses in Cameroon” The session is under the project of the Promoting Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon (WERC PROJECT).

In Cameroon, women especially married women face many difficulties in starting their businesses. For illustrative purposes, married women must obtain their spouse’s authorization to start a business or register their company. In addition, according to decree N° 2007/254 of September 4th, 2007 regarding the characteristics of obtaining a national identity card, married women need to present a marriage certificate before obtaining a national ID. However, this national ID is needed when registering a business and when applying for a loan from a financial institution.

Experts have recommended trainings, access to finance for women-led businesses in order for it to be sustained

Ruth Tembe, Chairperson of the Cameroon-India Business Council during the panel discussion said: “Staring a business in Cameroon is not difficult but running and operating the business is where there are a lot of impediments. Things still need to be done to smoothen the business process in Cameroon.”

The Cameroon-India Business Council chairperson further highlighted the important role that the government has been playing in putting across information on the creation of businesses in Cameroon as to her “I did not face a lot of difficulties to start or create my business.” “The problem in Cameroon for women-owned businesses is running these businesses. Doing research is very important not just for women-owned businesses. Women should be exposed to technology and they will get all the necessary information on starting a business.”

Manuela Kamadjou, Founder of Kebe Home, Cameroon says starting a business may be somehow complicated with all the complications of physical administration. Women are key stakeholders in the economic development of Cameroon, which is replete with boundless opportunities. Although there are increasing numbers of women involved in and benefiting from these opportunities, they still face many different kinds of problems and restrictions.

According to the Doing Business Index report (2020), there is gender inequality in business creation as follows: the number of procedures required (is currently 5 procedures for men and 6 for women), the time needed (is 13 days for men and 14 for women), the official fees required, the cost in the percentage of income per capita (is 24.6 per cent for men and 24.9 per cent for women).

During the discussions, the experts analyzed the impact of women-led businesses on economic performance in Cameroon; Examined the procedures of creating businesses in Cameroon; Identified difficulties encountered by women in the process of creating businesses in Cameroon and Proposed some policy recommendations on promoting the creation of women-led businesses in Cameroon.

Jean Blaise Nkonga, Senior Director of Operations, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation said: “Running the business is the difficult part because when you want to respond to an order you need finance to do that and buy other things which are not easy for women. Women are also suffering because they are not taken seriously. It is also not easy for them to create a support network and they have the problem of balancing between work and the family.”

“The current climate in the country is favourable for the creation of businesses. In the framework of the public-private partnership, some works have been done to improve doing business in Cameroon.”

“There needs to be the provision of support and access to education and training for entrepreneurship for women and training on how to sustain a business,” Jean Blaise said as a policy recommendation. “Facilitating access to finance, access to networks and market for women needs to be exploited.”

As a policy recommendation, Ruth Tembe says the government should carry out sensitization and that women should know that they must be able to contribute to the economic development of the country. “Cameroonians women should know that they have an important part to play in the economic development of Cameroon. Secondly, there should be acceleration boot camps, entrepreneurship boot camps and training geared towards women who want to do business. Access to funding should be made towards women-owned businesses.”

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