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How Women Entrepreneurs Can Change the SA Business Landscape

Shanduka Black Umbrellas explains the importance of woman on the South African business landscape.




african business woman

“There is great potential for female-led businesses to change the SA business landscape for the better.”

Everywhere in the world, an increasing number of female entrepreneurs are becoming the pillars of economic growth and development. And as such, much of the available data on female entrepreneurs comes from studies that have been conducted in the more developed economies of the world.

In developing countries; and in South Africa specifically, research of this particular facet of entrepreneurship has tended to shed a spotlight on the informal sector.

Related: 8 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Proudly South African Businesses

Take charge of a bigger role

The South African National Government looks to entrepreneurship as a critical driver of economic growth and job creation. According to the National Development Plan (NDP), government views small and medium enterprises (SMMEs) as contributing about 90% to the growth target of 2030. However, if efforts to encourage and support entrepreneurship are to succeed, especially amongst the country’s female business owners, we need to move beyond a focus on informal sector survivalist enterprises, and understand more about what drives success in the formal sector.

Unfortunately, the existence of multi-dimensional investigations of the motivations and aspirations of female entrepreneurs who are active in South Africa’s formal sector have been relatively limited. Although female entrepreneurs in South Africa still face more obstacles in starting their own businesses than their male counterparts, there is a definite window of opportunity for women to actively take charge of a bigger, more positive role in the country’s socio-economic status.

A positive attitude of the future

In South Africa, as in much of the world, businesses owned by women tend to be smaller than their male-owned counterparts. They are nonetheless a pioneering community. They are educated and well-primed for their roles as entrepreneurs. Many of such businesses demonstrate excellent results and growth prospects.

This is due to a strong support base that has been put in place by dedicated business incubator programs. Collectively, female business owners show remarkably positive attitudes to the future – more positive than those of their male counterparts.

Business incubation programmes


Business incubation programmes are the most common structures set in place to assist start-ups in their early stages of growth. But despite their prevalent nature, most incubators have been designed around a similar model.

Common to most South African incubators, is the provision of mentorship, general business skills (bookkeeping) and physical resources such as office space and meeting rooms for start-ups in incubation.

Some incubators specialise in supporting entrepreneurs in specific fields, where they can gain access to equipment-rich laboratories and receive time-saving product development guidance from industry experts. Incubation in SA is continuously improving, especially over the last three years. Many corporate companies are also showing strong interest in this area, and this can only be good for the ecosystem. However, more structured programmes offering direct access to market are needed.

“Our deliberate efforts in business development are aimed at creating new markets, introducing new business models, and providing sustainable employment opportunities in South Africa; which in turn gives business enterprises the potential to set the economy in motion towards a brighter, more equitable future,” says Seapei Mafoyane, CEO, Shanduka Black Umbrellas.

Also, any type of business can be incubated. However, social (CSI) projects are more difficult to incubate as the return on investment is generally more difficult to identify or measure. And depending on the type of company (tech, IT, services, etc.), the incubator needs to have the right (technical) resources and/or mentors available to be able to add value for the entrepreneurs.

Related: Shanduka Black Umbrellas: Mark Frankel

Sedzani Netshitenzhe, a 29-year-old single mother from Shayadima, Limpopo, took the bold decision to leave the security of her permanent job in order to pursue an entrepreneurial dream together with business partner Fulufhelo Ramulefho. That dream is now vested in their business, Careers for a Powerful You (C4U), a career and learning development consulting firm that supports young learners in making informed post matric career choices. The 100% black women owned start-up business receives enterprise and supplier development support under the Shanduka Black Umbrellas incubation model.

Another exemplary female-led business that has been supported by the Shanduka Black Umbrellas is Gebhuza Security Services. The CEO of the company, Hlengiwe Majola, explained that her objectives were to fill the need for a female touch within the male dominated security industry. Helingiwe represented the SBU Durban incubator as a nominee in the categories of Best SBU Ambassador as well as The Most Jobs Created at the 2015 Shanduka Black Umbrellas National Enterprise Development Awards in Johannesburg.

Social attitudes towards female entrepreneurs, while perhaps leaving significant room for improvement, are not a fatally constraining factor. South Africa’s prospects for creating a growing pool of successful female entrepreneurs look very bright, and there is potential for female-led businesses to change the SA business landscape for the better.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.


Entrepreneur Today

This Is A Call To The Curious – Applications For The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship Programme Are Open

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is calling on all young, entrepreneurially-minded South Africans to enlist in the most comprehensive and stimulating Fellowship opportunity in Southern African. Applications opened on 22 January 2018.





The Foundation takes a holistic approach to entrepreneurial development and believes that entrepreneurially-minded individuals with ethical values and strong leadership skills hold the key to change in South Africa and the globe. The Foundation supports entrepreneurs to improve the socio-economic landscape of Southern Africa. Further, it provides youth who demonstrate the highest potential access to education and assists them with cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset.

The Fellowship’s entrepreneurial and personal development programme runs throughout the academic year alongside the Candidate Fellow’s university studies. The Fellowship provides access to university education and includes comprehensive tertiary financial support to selected students.

Criteria for Grade 12 Learners

  • Level 5 in Pure Mathematics for Grade 11 final results
  • Level 6 average for your final Grade 11 results (excluding Life Orientation)
  • Completion of the National Benchmark Test by 30 September 2018
  • Under the age of 21 in your application year
  • South African citizens.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

Intention to study towards a degree in Commerce, Science (excluding Medicine), Engineering, Law or Humanities (majoring in Politics, Philosophy or Economics) at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS); University of Johannesburg (UJ); University of the Free State (UF); University of Cape Town (UCT); Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Rhodes University; the University of the Western Cape (UWC); University of Stellenbosch or the University of Pretoria (UP).

What it covers

  • The full cost of university tuition
  • The full cost of university accommodation, meals, books and tutor allowance
  • A monthly living stipend
  • Academic support and access to entrepreneurial and personal development programmes
  • Mentorship from individually assigned Foundation staff as well as business mentors
  • Access to potential postgraduate funding for graduated Candidate Fellows
  • There are no postgraduate contractual obligations with the Foundation.

Related: 9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

How to apply

Visit to download an application form or SMS “Gr12 and your fax number or email address” to 36777. The application closing date is the 11 May 2018.

Watch this video to learn more about the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. More information is available at and

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Entrepreneur Today

Facebook Launches A Classifieds Marketplace In South Africa

Facebook has launched Marketplace in South Africa, offering users a single destination on Facebook where they can easily discover and buy and sell goods with other people in their local community.





Available in 47 countries, with more than 550 million people from around the world visiting Facebook to buy and sell goods each month, Marketplace makes it easier for people to trade with others on Facebook.

Using Marketplace

  • To use Marketplace, tap on the Marketplace icon
  • To find what you’re looking for, search at the top and filter your results by location, category or price
  • To sell something, take a photo, describe your item, set your price and you are done
  • Buyers and sellers can communicate with each other using Facebook Messenger.

Related: 10 Motivational Quotes from Facebook Genius Mark Zuckerberg

Trading Safely

Facebook helps you trade safely on Marketplace by offering safety tips, privacy controls and easy-to-use reporting tools.

Top tips for trading safely on Marketplace:

Commerce Policy

Items, products or services sold on Facebook must comply with Facebook Community Standards and Commerce Policies. Please view the list of items prohibited on Facebook.

Verify the item

When buying an item, examine it carefully for quality, condition and authenticity before paying. For high-value items (watches, luxury bags), consider requesting a certificate of authenticity or proof of purchase.

Related: How You Can Avoid The ‘Facebook Effect’

Be shipping savvy

facebook-shipping-productsIf the seller offers to ship the item rather than exchanging it in person, you may not have the opportunity to verify the item before completing your purchase. You can use a service such as Standard Bank’s Shepherd to arrange safe payment and shipment. Shepherd keeps the money for a transaction in a trust account and releases it to the seller once the buyer verifies he or she has received the correct item in good condition.

Meet in a safe location

Don’t invite buyers or sellers to your home. Meet in a public place like a coffee shop or the mall. Before going, tell a family member or a friend where you will be, bring your cell phone, and consider asking another adult to come with you.

Use cash, COD, or person-to-person payment methods

Buyers and sellers may offer or accept cash or person-to-person (P2P) payments. If you choose to pay electronically using EFT, avoid payment links and log in directly through the payment method’s website. If the value of the item you intend to buy or sell requires a significant amount of cash, you might consider using a person-to-person payment method, such as PayPal or FNB eWallet.

Protect your privacy

Don’t share your financial account information (example: Payment login and password, bank account info) with buyers or sellers. Additionally, make sure your Facebook Privacy Settings are up-to-date. These settings help limit what other people can see (example: status updates, location, photos) on your profile page and what you share on Facebook.

Report someone

If you’re having a problem with someone in Marketplace, you can report them.

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Entrepreneur Today

5 Things SME’s Need To Be Thinking About In 2018

In 2018, small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) will be looking for a glimpse of inspiration to chart a new growth path and scale their businesses. This is off the back of a tough 2017 and previous years which have inhibited the growth of local SMEs.





In 2018, small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) will be looking for a glimpse of inspiration to chart a new growth path and scale their businesses. This is off the back of a tough 2017 and previous years which have inhibited the growth of local SMEs.

Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business says “Small business success becomes a monumental task when there’s arguably very little to no real economic growth overall. However every challenge presents an opportunity, and in South Africa, not only are we fortunate to consistently have SME development as a key objective on the national government agenda, but most corporates are also  hungry to shift spend to smaller businesses as part of the procurement policies.”

Weinberg says as 2018 begins in earnest, there are some important insights that business owners should consider in order to grow their businesses.

The digital economy is in full swing

SME’s that are comfortably operating without adopting digital technology in their business will likely be outperformed by their competitors unless they adapt to the current reality. Across the globe, consumers and businesses are rapidly migrating services to digital channels for its sheer efficiency, convenience and scalability. This includes basic elements like digitising accounting processes with software, through to using social media to campaign to customers.

If you’re ever unsure where to start, start by observing your customers and listening carefully to how they expect to be dealing with a business like yours – you can’t go wrong by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and then reflecting on your business through their eyes.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

Expect little to no help from the economy

The Word Bank recently predicted that SA will grow at roughly 1.1% in 2018 and while this is not cast in stone, it’s a relatively firm indicator that SME’s will have to do the hard yards to engineer any form of business growth. The focus should thus mainly be on differentiating your business, products or services from your competitors through marketing or even innovation if possible.

Maximise your banking relationship

Banks are investing a lot of time to understand the needs of businesses and have some of the tools to help SME’s run efficiently. The relationship should not be only be limited to just banking. With the multitude of rewards and value-add services offering by most banks, with just a bit of time spent understanding the offerings, great value can be derived for you and your business. Examples of these offered by FNB include eBucks rewards, free Instant Accounting software and CIPC registration services.

‘Think Local, Act Global’

Your business may be based in South Africa but its potential to scale shouldn’t be hampered by your location. In other words, be open to the opportunity of growing your business beyond South African shores, especially if your service or product has universal appeal and relevance. With global marketplaces such as Alibaba and AirBnB, the world market has never been more accessible and easier to do business with.

Related: SchoemanLaw Shakes Up The Legal Industry To The Benefits Of SMEs

Avoid the race to the bottom

Market forces continue to show that consumers aren’t only focused on the cheapest product or service despite the tough economic conditions. These days offering great service will build trust and loyalty with customers and keep them coming back. If you combine this with good quality, accessible products and services you will generally have an edge over your competitors offering the same or similar products and services.

“Even though 2018 is unlikely to come with an SME development boom, a solid homegrown business can still grow sustainably. More than ever, business owners need to arm themselves with as much information and insights as they can to grow their businesses or even reduce the risk of total business failure. With South Africa’s level of unemployment showing little to no signs of reduction, we need to sustain the spotlight on growing our SME sector and offering as much support to it as possible. SME’s represent one of the most effective ways to create employment in local communities, especially if these businesses find ways to trade with customers beyond their normal operating territories.” says Weinberg.

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