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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.

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“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

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.

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Entrepreneur Today

Surge In South Africans Swopping Their Cars For Bitcoin

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has experienced a seemingly interminable rise. Early adopters have experience lottery-sized pay-outs on minor investments as the currency exploded in value in 2017.

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The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has experienced a seemingly interminable rise. Early adopters have experience lottery-sized pay-outs on minor investments as the currency exploded in value in 2017.

As South Africans are itching to get their hands on the digital currency, there’s been an increase in swops and bitcoin-only sales on Gumtree.co.za, says Claire Cobbledick, Head of Core at Gumtree. “This is particularly true for high-value items like cars, bikes and boats. Many sellers are willing to take a gamble with their assets in hopes of a large pay-out.”

This is on trend with other marketplaces. In the United States a McLaren 720S was put up for sale in exchange for 25 bitcoin, a theoretical value of $425,000.

Related: 11 Things You Need To Know About Bitcoin

While Gumtree does not allow for the sale of bitcoin miners or services, Cobbledick says that customers can exchange goods for bitcoin on the site, but should be fully aware of the risks. “Bitcoin is a volatile currency, so while you could easily see a 50% increase in your investment, you could just as easily end up with nothing. It’s up to the seller to decide if they are willing and able to take a gamble.”

Some cars currently up for sale in exchange for bitcoin includes a Land Rover Defender, BMW X5 and a rare 1970 Mercury Cougar V8.

“There are also a few other sellers accepting bitcoin in exchange for Kruger Rands,” says Cobbledick. “Perhaps proving that gold as a store of value is falling out of vogue.”

But the most unusual swop would have to go to an entrepreneurial seller who is offering carnivorous plants in exchange for the cryptocurrency.

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Zando Sold 80 Items A Minute During Black Friday – By Doing This

Black Friday has brought immense success for numerous local online retailers – reflecting the potential of e-commerce in South Africa. Why not learn from Zando’s success in 2017 to ensure your success during the 2018 Black Friday sales season?

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For South African e-retailers, Black Friday is a big sales event. But you need to ensure you’re prepared for the web traffic and that your e-commerce store can handle the logistics of thousands of orders.

zando-sascha-breussAccording to Zando, they experience 100% up-time during Black Friday and less than a week after the season sales event, 95% of customer orders have already been shipped.

To help fellow e-tailers perform better next year, Zando’s CEO, Sascha Breuss answers some key questions about the company’s preparations and learnings around Black Friday:

1. How did you encourage greater sales on Black Friday?

Over the last few years Black Friday has developed a following in South Africa, so we benefitted from the existing hype around it. We didn’t focus too much on upfront marketing, but put our energy into flawless execution and of course great deals for the customers.

Related: The Evolution Of Retail: From Corner Store To Artificial Intelligence

2. How much planning went into ensuring your store platform ran at optimum?

The real ‘hot phase’ started with the first day of November when our IT department went into a ‘feature freeze’ and we focused 100% on site-stability and scalability.

We went through some intense testing of our site with loads up to 15 times the average daily amount of visitors. So, when the actual day came, we were confident in our systems.

3. How were you able to successfully co-ordinate logistics during Black Friday?

Early preparation and experience from past years have been the key to success. We increased our head count in both Warehouse and Customer Service well in advance so that we could rely on well-trained and experienced colleagues come Black Friday.

4. How did you ensure a seamless experience between your website and your app?

We know that our customers are browsing Zando on all platforms, desktop, mobile and app so we implemented some handy features to make the transition between each platform easier. For example, shared baskets and wish lists are now a feature. Some of the deals however have been app-only and sometimes we reward our app users with early access to shop the best deals. So it is definitely worth it to download our app.

Related: How SA’s Online Retailers Can Cash In On Black Friday Fever

5. How did you scale your entire operation for a single event?

This is easy to summarise in one word – TEAMWORK. The Zando staff did an amazing job and were the backbone of our success. Not only did they put the required extra hours in and worked hard until the job was done, but they also showed real team-spirit. When you called our Customer Service during Black Friday it’s very possible that you spoke to someone in our HR, Social Media or Legal team who helped out answering calls.

6. How did your marketing campaign affect traffic on your platforms?

The most surprising element was probably the high volume of traffic that we saw during the night. Visits started to increase every minute before midnight and during the first two hours of the day we saw peaks that were higher than on our strongest week day. This traffic never dropped with a lot of orders being placed between 2am and 3am on Black Friday.

7. How did your technology systems handle the influx of shopper traffic?

In the build up to Black Friday we added additional server capacity and changed the way we handled the flow of traffic. This made us very flexible to switch on additional capacity wherever required. So it was a combination of intensive preparation, close monitoring and ultimately very little sleep for a couple of days to ensure we monitored our system health 24 hours a day.

8. What was your sales strategy?

For us everything that had a discount of 40%-80%, and was still a relevant and recent look, qualified for Black Friday 2017. Once these criteria were fulfilled we made sure that we had sufficient stock available – in some cases the demand was so high that we brought on additional stock from our suppliers during the Black Friday weekend.

Related: 5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

9. What were your biggest learnings?

We have been very successful in our approach to remain true to the idea of Black Friday – offering great deals on relevant product and not outdated clearance ranges. The customer is very educated and will identify a good deal, and we have seen consumers’ negative comments on stores who used Black Friday solely as a warehouse clearance opportunity.

10. What surprised you about Zando’s success during Black Friday?

Thanks to extensive preparation we have been able to achieve an uptime of 100% for the full month of November. We also kept the deliveries and returns 100% free regardless of discount or basket size. It seems like our customers appreciated this approach and we have actually seen very positive sales numbers after Black Friday while we expected a drop. I believe the full focus and investment on the Customer Experience has worked for us.

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Team Resolutions: 11 Tips To Uncover Passion And Potential In New Hires

If there’s one resolution HR departments should make this new year, it should be to transform the onboarding experience for new hires.

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If there’s one resolution HR departments should make this new year, it should be to transform the onboarding experience for new hires says Michelle Seko, Talent Acquisition Manger at Sage Africa & Middle East.

The importance of a good candidate experience cannot be underestimated. Research has shown that 88% of job applicants are more likely to buy from a company if they’ve had a positive experience when applying for work there. Research has also shown that candidates talk about their experiences with a company, regardless of whether they got the job. Some candidates would even refer a friend to the company and others will re-apply for a future role, if the experience was a good one.

Research also found that:

Related: Why You Should (Seriously) Stop Hiring People

Win-win

Businesses enter into a relationship with a new hire the moment they sign on the dotted line. And, as with any relationship, it will only flourish if built on trust, respect and a commitment to self-improvement.

When you set new hires up for personal success, the outcomes naturally feed into your business’ success, which means you both win.

Here are a few ideas to get the most out of your new hires:

Make them feel welcome

Introduce them to the people they’ll be working with as soon as possible so that they immediately feel part of a team. At Sage, we partner new hires with a buddy, or Sage Ambassador, who helps them settle in and meet new people, contributing to the positive on-boarding experience.

Focus on the benefits

Compelling benefits not only attract the best candidates but also boost loyalty and job satisfaction. People are motivated by different things: one person might value flexi-time while another could place more importance on growth opportunities or bonuses. Focus on the benefits that align with the individual’s values when onboarding.

Set goals early and outline a plan to achieve them

This keeps your team focused, especially if they will be rewarded for achieving their goals.

Assess performance

Monthly, at least. Adjust goals and plans where necessary, reward good performance, introduce new challenges and deal with issues promptly.

Show genuine interest

Regular catch-ups and remembering children’s names, for instance, makes people feel appreciated.

Empower them

Let your new hires apply their knowledge to business challenges and offer training opportunities outside of their comfort zones. Reward ideas that help you do things better and faster.

Related: Hiring The Right Person Is Critical When Growing A Business

Encourage collaboration

People thrive when they can learn from others and when they can share their knowledge. Involve experienced team members in the new hire’s training. This is a great way to recognise and appreciate their loyalty and skills.

Be transparent

Do you have difficult clients? Will the new hire have to work overtime? What are the business’s goals? New hires should know what they’re getting into.

Provide solid training on everything from company culture and benefits, to opportunities for growth

The biggest cost associated with training people is the time it takes for them to become productive. But rushing through on-the-job training could lead to a host of other problems, including repeated mistakes and a lack of confidence.

Openly communicate any changes in the business

Manage your team’s expectations and be clear about yours. Allow new hires to question and understand how you do things and to point out errors – their past experience probably gave them new ideas and ways of working that could boost your team’s efficiency and productivity.

Be upbeat

Your mood sets the tone for everyone else. You can have the best product in the world but unless your team is passionate and enthusiastic about that product, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.

Keeping people motivated and productive is hard work

But if you provide them with the tools, knowledge and support to do their best work and to contribute their best ideas, motivation and productivity will come naturally.

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