Botswana is working hard to diversify its economy, which has historically been based on the production and sale of diamonds. The World Bank's Doing Business Report shows that the country has the highest new business density in Africa with 13.11 new businesses registered per 1 000 adults. Education and entrepreneurship are key drivers of this growth, playing an integral part in reducing Botswana's 29.4 percent youth unemployment rate - and women are at the leading edge.
Botswana's women entrepreneurs are on the rise. The 2017 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs tracked the number of female business owners, as a percentage of total business owners, across 54 high-, middle- and lower-income countries. Botswana, classed as an upper middle-income economy, was ranked second in the world at 34.6 percent. By comparison, Uganda scored highest at 34.8 percent and Saudi Arabia lowest at 1.5 percent. The latest data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor also ranks female entrepreneurship in Botswana as the third highest in the region.
And it is not only the number of female entrepreneurs that is increasing - Batswana women are making headway in formal employment too. According to a 2017 report by Grant Thornton, Botswana has improved significantly in terms of the percentage of senior roles held by women, increasing by eight percent from 23 percent in 2016 to 31 percent in 2017. Globally, the proportion of senior leadership roles held by women has moved by just one percent, from 24 percent in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017. Botswana has also shown a six percent reduction in the percentage of businesses with no women in senior leadership.
The report recommends gender diversity at leadership level as it brings commercial benefits and leads to enhanced risk management. The report states, "teams without diversity are at a much greater risk of going down a path without considering all the options or coming up with other more complex solutions".
According to Nicky Fisher, president of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), the organisation has seen steady growth in the number of women enrolling on its courses in Botswana, which she believes is helping to feed the growth and diversification of the local economy. Worldwide, AAT, a leading UK-based qualification and professional body for technical accountants and bookkeepers which has been operating in Botswana for 26 years, boasts a female membership of 70 percent.