“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.
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.
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.
Dream Big – Engen Dealer Lydia Ramatisa
All the odds were stacked against her, but Engen service station owner Lydia Ramatisa is proof that with hard work, commitment and passion, success is indeed possible.
Lydia Ramatisa, franchisee at Engen’s Orkney Convenience Centre in Klerksdorp in the North West, could easily have become yet another teenage-mother dropout. Instead, the arrival of her baby girl Rethabile 14 years ago sharpened her focus, driving her to chase her dreams.
“I was in Grade 11 and suddenly I had to find work so I could feed my baby. It was a tough lesson,” Ramatisa recalls.
Today she is a beneficiary of Engen’s decision to prioritise the empowerment of black women in a bid to effect positive change in South Africa.
In 2012, the National Empowerment Fund set up a R50-million affordable loan facility for black entrepreneurs to acquire Engen retail dealerships.
According to Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Engen’s Head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, 46% of the company’s 1 020 retail service station are now black-owned, with 10% of them women-owned.
Ramatisa recalls how she got her first position with Engen as a cashier at the Uncle George Service Station in her home town of Jouberton, also in Klerksdorp, 12 years ago. She had sought a better-paying job after first working in a bakery for just R800 a month.
“I used to work extra hours at the Uncle George location, just to make sure the business was running well. My main aim was to see the customers always happy with our service,” she says.
That’s because while Ramatisa may not have an education beyond Grade 11, she quickly figured out that if the customers were happy, the business would thrive.
“I got interested in everything about the operations of the service station, and soon began acting as a supervisor, directing, managing and helping train the staff to do their best work.”
After eight years at the Jouberton location, where she rose to assistant manager, Ramatisa got the chance to run her own concern when her boss, Dr Abdool Ebrahim, suggested she apply for her own Engen franchise.
“I told him I was an uneducated woman but he was adamant that I was young and ambitious, and that I was exactly the kind of person Engen was looking for, who they could help to learn and grow.
“Once I got to the interview I had no more fear. I just wanted to show them exactly what I had to offer,” she remembers.
That was in 2015, when the Orkney site was ready to reopen after a two-year shutdown.
“Engen put their trust in me, and I became the majority shareholder in the operation, which includes the petrol and Quickshop, as well as a Corner Bakery and Barcelos.
Ramatisa and her team have since doubled previous sales figures for all parts of the operation, and were named by Engen in the top two operations for the region in July.
“It’s extremely hard work, but I am so proud of what we are achieving,” she adds.
Ramatisa also changed the future for Rethabile, and her other daughter, Bonita, 3, explaining that she invests in their education wherever possible.
“I may be a single mother, and I may not have much of an education, but I am proof that hard work really does pay off. When I failed to matriculate, I promised myself that that would be my last failure.
“Other women out there need to know that they can do the same if they put in the time and effort, and if they have love for what they do.”
Njokweni-Magida says that by continuing to attract and grow the talents of young women like Ramatisa, Engen is helping build a prosperous future for all South Africans.
“We are focused on integrating more women across our entire value chain, and are very proud of success stories like this one.”
Other than the significant boost in the number of black and women dealership owners, the Engen Limited board comprises 54% black members, and 31% black women. The Engen management committee is 64% black, and 36% black female, while senior management in the organisation is 65% black of which 36% are black female.
Ramatisa says she “fell in love” with Engen’s operational methods.
“I remain passionate about the Engen brand, and thank the company for proving that if you offer someone an opportunity, along with mentorship and guidance, anything is possible.”
Her message to other women like her? “Don’t be afraid to dream big. I am proof that you can do anything you want in life.”
Winners Of The 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Women Of The Future Awards Announced
FAIRLADY magazine has announced the winners of the annual FAIRLADY Santam Women of the Future Awards at an exclusive VIP luncheon at Summer Place in Hyde Park.
The three winners were selected from a shortlist of finalists by a panel of South African judges – FAIRLADY editor Suzy Brokensha, Professor Thuli Madonsela, Head HR business partners at Santam Annette La Grange, media entrepreneur and international speaker Jo-Ann Strauss and businesswoman Dawn Nathan-Jones.
Through an independent survey, Santam found that the first 1 000 days of a business are the hardest. If you’re still in business by day 1 001, they’ve found, you’re likely to succeed long term. These high-fliers have either already surpassed that critical point or are well on the way to doing so!
“Through this competition, we have seen remarkable women that have achieved amazing results. Our aim is to ensure that these businesses have a greater impact in the South African economy. We’re honoured to have been part of their entrepreneurial journey.” said Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Santam.
We are proud to announce the winners:
Patricia Schröder of Reclite SA has been named the 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Woman of the Future (awarded to a female entrepreneur who has survived the first 1 000 days of business). Reclite SA collects, transports and recycles lighting, batteries and electronics. ‘Winning the Woman of the Future Award is recognition for all the hard work that my team and I have done and a reminder that hard work does pay off in the end! It will also serve as inspiration for other women to chase their dreams and passions,’ says Patricia.
She receives R50 000 in cash, a mentoring session with one of the judges, an Issey Miyake fragrance hamper worth R6 990, an IMM Graduate School short course worth R15 000, a Michel Herbelin watch worth R10 500, a Samsonite Karissa Biz Bailhandle and Spinner suitcase worth R7 298, a Madrid ladies handbag and purse from Jekyll & Hide valued at R4 799, a Cross pen worth R2 500 and one media training session.
Vere Shaba of Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions is the winner of the 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Rising Star Award (awarded to a female entrepreneur who is still within her 1 000 days of business). Her engineering consulting firm specialises in green building certifications, engineering solutions, energy solutions and strategic partnerships across the African continent. ‘Winning this award will enable me to create opportunities in the green building sector for South Africans in the future, as well as expand the business into key economic hubs in Africa and Europe,’ says Vere.
She receives R20 000 in cash, a mentoring session with one of the judges, an Issey Miyake fragrance hamper worth R6 990, an IMM Graduate School short course worth R15 000, a Michel Herbelin watch worth R10 500, a Samsonite Karissa Biz Bailhandle and Spinner suitcase worth R7 298, a Madrid ladies handbag and purse from Jekyll & Hide valued at R4 799, a Cross pen worth R2 500 and one media training session.
Lindiwe Matlali of Africa Teen Geeks won the 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Social Entrepreneur Award (awarded to a female entrepreneur who is making a real difference in her community). Africa Teen Geeks offers children between the ages of six and 18 free lessons on how to code. The NPO has partnered with UNISA to facilitate Saturday classes in their computer labs countrywide. ‘Knowing that we give kids hope and raise their aspirations is my biggest achievement and driver,’ says Lindiwe.
She receives R20 000 in cash, a mentoring session with one of the judges, an Issey Miyake fragrance hamper worth R6 990, an IMM Graduate School short course worth R15 000, a Michel Herbelin watch worth R10 500, a Samsonite Karissa Biz Bailhandle and Spinner suitcase worth R7 298, a Madrid ladies handbag and purse from Jekyll & Hide valued at R4 799, a Cross pen worth R2 500 and one media training session
‘I always find the winners of the FAIRLADY Santam Women of the Future Awards absolutely admirable,’ says FAIRLADY editor Suzy Brokensha. ‘But what has really struck me about this year’s winners is how they are future-proofing the world through their businesses: Patricia and Vere through huge green initiatives that have gone out of the domestic and into the commercial world, and Lindiwe through giving marginalised kids a real shot at competing in this economy on an equal footing.’
Guests in attendance at the luncheon included businesswoman Wendy Luhabe, philanthropist and author Sonia Booth, businesswoman Judi Nwokedi, Miss World SA Thulisa Keyi, international activist Catherine Constantinides, media personalities Ashley Hayden and Penny Lebyane.
Read more about the winners and their businesses in the latest issue of FAIRLADY magazine, on sale Monday, 20 August 2018.
Business Linkages And Investment Readiness
The Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is hosting its flagship Growth Accelerator Programme for 2018, sponsored by Nedbank.
The Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is hosting its flagship Growth Accelerator Programme for 2018, sponsored by Nedbank. AWIEF is seeking 25 ambitious, innovative and committed early-growth-stage South African women entrepreneurs, from a variety of sectors, looking for support to scale their businesses.
Access to finance is the most cited challenge to the growth of women-owned businesses in Africa. Bankability and investment readiness are major impediments to attracting business finance.
This is an intensive six-week programme designed to support participants with the business modelling and growth strategy required to scale their enterprises, become investment ready and develop entrepreneurial leadership. The programme will cover:
- purpose and values
- target market, competitive landscape and value proposition
- delivery model
- financial modelling
- conduct a creative force
- growth strategy
- financing for scale
- pitch training.
Nirmala Reddy, Senior Manager of Nedbank Enterprise Development, says: ‘We support initiatives such as this in line with our pledge to help clients see money differently, which is aimed at making a difference in South Africa, not just for women and children and business, but also for communities throughout the country. The bank strongly focuses on the development of female employees and black-women-owned suppliers, and this can be seen through our development and training programmes. We are also proud that women make up 62% of the workforce at Nedbank.’
The 2018 AWIEF Growth Accelerator, with its first 25 participants, is implemented as a build-up programme that will culminate at the 2018 AWIEF Conference, Exhibition and Awards event taking place on 8 and 9 November at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where participating entrepreneurs will pitch their business to an audience of investors, business leaders and corporate decision-makers.
The three best ventures stand to win monetary prizes from AWIEF and financial management advice from Nedbank.
The programme details are as follows:
- Dates: Starts on 17 September and culminates on 8 and 9 November 2018
- Location: Cape Town and Johannesburg
- Participation fee: Free
Businesses must be:
- in a post-revenue phase;
- scalable and innovative ventures;
- in operation for not less than two years (ideally three to five years);
- owned or led by ambitious and committed women entrepreneurs; and
- seeking investment or funding to grow.
If you are interested in participating, click here to apply. Applications close on 31 August 2018.
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