It is important to encourage and support enterprise development in South Africa and women entrepreneurs should be at the top of the list, says Dr Lia Vangelatos, acting managing director of Anglo American’s enterprise development arm, Zimele.
While the role of women in the South African economy has been acknowledged and encouraged, efforts to support women in enterprise seems to have decreased.
According to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), South Africa showed improvement in decreasing the gender gap in the past two years but in 2012 the gap widened again with only 39% of women with plans to venture into business.
Women often do not have the business experience and financial resources to successfully establish an enterprise and sustain its growth. As with their local male counterparts, female entrepreneurs also need assistance with issues such as corporate governance, management, legal, accounting, public relations, safety, health and the environment.
Networks provide much-needed support
The most effective way to do this is to partner with rising entrepreneurs to create networks where they can be trained and guided in their business journey.
Mentorship and support is crucial, as well as establishing appropriate networks and forums that will allow these women to have all relevant questions relating to small business development answered.
Local networks for women in business include:
- The Businesswomen’s Association of SA
- Inspiring Women
- The Young Women in Business Network
- The SA Women Entrepreneurs Network.
Rural women in particular need help
Women in rural areas must be encouraged to establish their own enterprises to increase income so that they can eliminate poverty in their families as well as create jobs that will enable other women to do the same.
These women should be assisted to become smart and skilful business women with thriving and sustainable enterprises, which will offer them financial independence.
Encouraging entrepreneurship among women will serve as a positive force for social and economic development in the country as well as eradicate poverty, and most importantly, empower women.
Organisations that help women
There are other organisations (apart from those listed above) that specialise in assisting women entrepreneurs. These include: