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Support for Women Entrepreneurs

5 Truths Women Need To Grow A Successful Business

Established woman entrepreneur Olatorera Oniru, CEO shares essential strategies for growing a very successful business rapidly.

Olatorera Oniru




Many resilient women have picked up the challenge of entrepreneurship. This increasing flock of women in business is strengthening the cliché – what a man can do a woman can do. In general, the number of women-owned firms is on the rise, but challenges remain inclusive of self-imposed limitations.

Every business owner has numerous goals when starting out, including instant success, recognition and fast growth. The fact is overnight success is not often the standard and there is no guarantee given all efforts, as over 90% of start-ups fail within the first 3 years according to research conducted by

While recognising the critical contribution of women-owned businesses to Africa’s economic growth, many organisations are increasingly committed to supporting women-owned start-ups.

Related: Farah Fortune Of African Star Communications On Choosing The Right Clients

Many programmes exist to help women start businesses but very few programs are designed to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Want to rapidly and firmly shoot your business to success and achieve growth milestones?

1. Have experience and thorough knowledge of the industry you are in. Never stop learning. Build your network. Employ the best people

Learning is a continuous agenda and a daily goal for any founder and CEO. We must strive to continue learning from all angles. Learn from your competitors, colleagues, employees, mentors, industry leaders and even friends and family.

Have a strong knack for research and utilise all tools and resources available to you to garner knowledge including free webinars and seminars. Desire and aspire to be a walking-and-talking knowledge base for your industry. In line with this, you’ll find that it will be easy for you to innovate, establish patents and grow even faster.

Despite all your knowledge and experience, avoid doing everything yourself as the chief executive. Ensure that you recruit the best employees to help manage certain units of the company.

Also acknowledge where you just aren’t skilled enough and have a passionate expert assist you with handling that unit while you focus on the bigger picture of growing the company.

2. Know, understand and implement solid financial plans and goals

Financials are one of the most important aspects to starting and growing any business. Financials must never be neglected. If you aren’t a finance and accounting guru, hire someone and work closely with them. Your goal is to have a fair balance between your current expenditure and revenue generated on a monthly basis.

To break even and maximise growth within the early years of your business start-up, your revenue should significantly exceed your expenses. Until that happens, keep pushing strongly and keep costs at the minimum necessary to grow optimally.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

3. Dream big, trust your gut and don’t underestimate your own wisdom

“Push your dreams; don’t let anything stop you from doing anything great for the world”

Let’s all dream big. We all can be great. Greatness for all equates to greatness for Africa. To flourish, you need to have both the courage to dream big and the ability to execute and carry others along.

Pay attention to your inner voice. If you find yourself hesitating because something doesn’t feel right, step back and listen. If your voice say “This is it, go for it” then put everything you’ve got into making “it” the world’s biggest success story!


Olatorera Oniru CEO of

4. Get Involved, Be persuasive, Take on new roles

There are lots of great resources and communities out there that provide opportunities to connect with women entrepreneurs and leaders. These groups provide important places to be heard, to share ideas, and find encouragement and support.

Also consider attending at least one conference per quarter. If carefully chosen and carefully planned, it becomes an investment and you can earn the money back in terms of vital new contacts, great ideas and keeping up with your industry.

By taking on roles outside your cultural and intellectual comfort zone, you may realise how much fun it is and you will also improve your leadership skills. Being on the board of other startups and initiatives is great way to give back and develop your leadership skills.

5. Take chances but reduce your risks

Risk is an unavoidable part of starting and growing a business. It is impossible to control everything, but there are ways to limit internal and external threats to your company and its growth.

Related: 10 Inspirational African Entrepreneurs

In facing challenges, find out the possibility and the consequences that go with it, some of that fear subsides because you believe you can handle it. Being in business isn’t all about wins, it’s about learning from your failures in order to move forward. If and whenever you fall, get back up and go much higher! Let’s all meticulously craft our ambitions, work hard together and make Africa greater.

For more strategies on establishing, growing and sustaining your business join Olatorera Oniru – CEO of and other inspiring women at the 2016 Women in Business Seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 6th of July, 2016.

Olatorera Oniru (born March, 3, 1987) is a Nigerian entrepreneur and development speaker. She is the founder and CEO of the electronic commerce website In 2016, she was named in Forbes' list of "30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa"

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Support for Women Entrepreneurs

Funding For Women Entrepreneurs – A Collective Effort

The bottom line is that while funders need to stretch further to reach female entrepreneurs, these entrepreneurs need to make their own efforts to connect and ready themselves to tap these resources. Only then will the latent economic value of women in our economy reach its full potential.

Jenny Retief




It is well recognised that women are powerful drivers of economic growth in South Africa, and are vital to the country reaching its full economic potential. Yet women account for only 18% percent of business owners in South Africa, according to the second Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), released earlier this year.

The reasons are many, including lack of financial literacy, but one of the biggest constraints facing women entrepreneurs is access to finance. As most women entrepreneurs are concentrated in the informal sector, the majority of them access financing through micro-lending institutions, which offer only limited support. When they are ready to grow into SMMEs, they again face difficulties in obtaining loans from commercial banks.

According to the ‘Inaugural South African SMME Access to Finance Report’, published last year by the online access to finance portal Finfind, the SMME sector provides a “compelling, largely untapped market opportunity for innovative funders”, estimating the SMME credit gap at between R86bn and R346bn.

Finfind’s research showed that many SMMEs that are eligible for funding are still unable to secure it due to their lack of finance readiness, i.e., they are unable to produce the financial documentation required by funders to assess bankability and affordability, in order to approve their funding applications. These documents include up-to-date management accounts, latest financial statements, budgets, forecasts and tax clearance certificates, among others.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

This was reiterated at the recent African Youth Networks Summit in Tswhane, where the head of Old Mutual Foundation Millicent Maroga stressed, “the key issue is a distinct lack of support in getting the business ready for funding”.

Enter initiatives like the Riversands Incubation Hub, a campus north of Sandton that houses over 150 established and start-up small businesses in subsidised premises, with access to business support services. One of its key values to its SMMEs is bridging the gap between them and the many players in the funding space, in particular through its annual FundEX event, a platform giving guidance and helping to match entrepreneurs with funders.

“Contrary to popular belief, there is funding available. FundEX provides practical guidance on what funding is available and what it takes to access this capital. It also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to interact with a variety of funders, including banks, government funders and alternative funding platforms,” says Jenny Retief, CEO of Riversands Incubation Hub.

The theme this year is ‘Secrets of Scale’, unpacking what it takes to build a ‘fundable’ business. This is highly pertinent, as much of the complexity in the SMME funding environment is seated in the size of the business, and what stage of growth it is at.

Finfind’s research found that although SMMEs and start-ups may qualify for venture capital funding, funding opportunities for less scalable SMMEs are less promising. “This opens the door for new, innovative funding models to serve this section of the SMME market. Start-ups and micro-businesses represent a significant potential market for innovative funders who are able to develop new lending models tailored to address this growing market,” said the report.

As women proliferate in this space, they need to equip themselves with as much as information as possible about the funding opportunities out there, says Retief.

“The DTI, for example, offers funding programmes, and aggregators such as FinFind and others can help entrepreneurs navigate the more than 400 different funding solutions available in SA. Entrepreneurs can also boost their business by regular engagement with a mentor. Many incubation programmes offer this type of support,” she says.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

There are also many initiatives to bring resources closer to entrepreneurs. For example, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) offers Technology Stations in diversified sectors, ranging from agro-processing, chemicals, clothing and textiles to tooling. These provide entrepreneurs access to university-level technical levels and specialised equipment at affordable pricing levels.

This speaks to upskilling, a key offering of incubation hubs and critical for women entrepreneurs needing to become finance literate. “At Riversands, we have a team of coaches and mentors who guide entrepreneurs in specific areas such as finance or strategy. Relevant educational material is regularly presented in formal as well as informal ways and reinforced with practical coaching to help entrepreneurs put theory into practice in their own businesses.  This is flanked with professional bookkeeping services provided on a subsidised basis. This allows business owners to build the financial records and systems their businesses need to qualify for understanding,” says Retief.

The bottom line is that while funders need to stretch further to reach female entrepreneurs, these entrepreneurs need to make their own efforts to connect and ready themselves to tap these resources. Only then will the latent economic value of women in our economy reach its full potential.

Riversands FundEX takes place on August 16. For more information visit:

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Support for Women Entrepreneurs

13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top In SA

These 13 black businesswomen are rapidly rising stars. You can learn from their journey and their entrepreneurial advice.




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Women all over the world are the powerhouses behind some of the newest, innovative start-ups and concept businesses. South African businesswomen are gaining momentum in this global arena too, with success stories like the 13 ladies below.

Female-led business growth is happening in South Africa, despite the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) statistics showing that only 6.2% of South African females take the leap into entrepreneurship.

These 13 black female businesswomen are going against statistical trends and represent some of the rising stars in South Africa’s entrepreneurial landscape. 

  1. Boitumelo Ntsoane
  2. Phuti Mahanyele 
  3. DJ Zinhle 
  4. Polo Leteka Radebe
  5. Michelle Okafor
  6. Sonia Booth
  7. Basetsana Kumalo
  8. Sibongile Sambo
  9. Molemo Kgomo
  10. Nkhensani Nkosi
  11. Bonang Matheba
  12. Matsi Modise
  13. Khanyi Dhlomo
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Support for Women Entrepreneurs

[Infographic] The World’s Most Influential Female Entrepreneurs

Numerous women have enjoyed massive success with the businesses that they started. Some of these are profiled in the infographic below from All Finance Tax.

Colette Cassidy




Managing your own business is not easy. Unless you’re willing to stop at nothing to make the business succeed and unless you can balance supreme self-confidence with the cool, analytical head to know the risk that’s a risk too far, your entrepreneurial sojourn will almost certainly be brief and disastrous.

If you can set up your own company and keep it operational for at least several years, you will have proven that you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Even if you don’t turn over a massive profit from the company, being able to stand on your own two feet with self-made earnings is an achievement.

Then there are those whose businesses more than just survive. They grow into multimillion-dollar international enterprises which could make the owners world famous. One such example is JK Rowling. Granted, she might not fit the stereotype of a business owner, but she turned her passion into her life’s work and earned a fortune because of it. Like many entrepreneurs, she had an idea which took her from being in financial distress to owning a globally-recognised brand, namely the Harry Potter series.

Her story is an inspiration to female entrepreneurs everywhere, as the corporate world is still thought of as a male-dominated environment. That perception is rather misleading, though, as numerous women have enjoyed massive success with the businesses that they started. Some of these are profiled in the infographic below from All Finance Tax.


Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family


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