(By Meshel Muzuva, Economics Lecturer, and Dr Marlini Nair-Moodley, Marketing Lecturer, at MANCOSA)
In most countries, entrepreneurship is seen as a panacea for all economic and social ills, to build the economy and fight the triple scourge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
In South Africa, we have marginal success with entrepreneurship amid women. Yet entrepreneurship can be key to lowering incidences of domestic violence as it reduces the economic pressure felt in households.
The 21st century has been a game-changer for many women overcoming all the barriers against all the odds of how women were raised. Previously women were reared to become wives and child bearers. However, women now have a choice to marry or not. Women are taking over jobs that were previously reserved for men. The celebration of August as Women’s Month has translated over the last decade to women putting themselves first and striving to become independent.
The new generation has paved a way for women to shatter glass ceilings. Now women have become conscientised that they can become anything that they envisage becoming. As women, we need to have the mindset of being an entrepreneur from a young age. All you need is a creative and dedicated mind. Becoming your own brand is possible, and doing what you do well is the key to success. Many strong women who became successful entrepreneurs in a number of areas like running day care centers, sewing, pottery, hair dressing and baking, started with a small bank balance or with a stokvel.
Local predictions indicate by 2022, female entrepreneurs have the potential to boost the South African economy by R175 billion. Entrepreneurship is vital for its ability to advance living standards and generate wealth for women.
Female entrepreneurs are increasingly being considered as important catalysts for economic growth and development in South Africa by contributing substantially to employment generation. Yet, they face countless challenges while juggling the responsibilities of a home and family against their business demands. Equally, they struggle with various barriers including access to finance, financial literacy programmes, training, business consulting and socio-cultural constraints.
If more women had equal access to entrepreneurship opportunities and could accumulate wealth, the gender wealth gap will reduce and, in the South African context, positively impact on the country’s sluggish and decimated economy. The knock-on effect is diminishing unemployment levels and the potential for a growing band of role models to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs.
South African women, particularly previously disadvantaged individuals from black, Indian and Coloured communities, are decades behind comparative economies in terms of available resources. There are many organizations which play an important role by empowering women entrepreneurs. These groups support women entrepreneurship through skills development, training, counseling, mentoring and assisting them in marketing their products apart from arranging financing for women-run businesses. Some of these organizations are Women Entrepreneurial Fund (WEF), Isivande Women’s Fund (IWF), Identity Development Fund (IDF), Absa Women Empowerment Fund, Chambers of Commerce, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Every woman who wants to succeed in business should educate herself in respect of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Be a change-maker and learn the basics of keeping a monthly budget, finance loans, marketing to investors and interpreting financial statements. If you learn how to do these things, you can find the funding for your venture, even if you don’t have the capital in your own bank account.
Starting your own business doesn’t mean that you won’t stumble along the way or that you’re guaranteed to be successful, but it simply means that you should definitely try and you shouldn’t allow the fear of failure to intimidate you.
It requires time, energy, motivation, dedication and sacrifice. So, choosing something you are passionate about is critical as this will propel you on a daily basis and not succumb to surrounding pressures. Know your strengths, weaknesses and priorities to succeed in becoming an entrepreneur, and no matter what business you start it also helps to be resourceful and have strong networking skills.
MANCOSA, a leading provider of management programmes through supported distance learning in Southern Africa, is renowned for its MBA offering, which is ranked among the 10 of the best MBAs in Africa. A member of Honoris United Universities – the first Pan-African private higher education network focused on nurturing the next generation of African leaders and professionals. MANCOSA serves as an innovation hub for undergraduate and postgraduate management, offering 50 accredited programmes. A selection of Executive Education Short Learning Programmes is also offered to meet the requirements of professionals in both the private and public sectors. See: www.mancosa.co.za
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