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Power Players: Dynamic Women Building Business In SA

Whether it’s out of necessity or just because women’s time has come, women entrepreneurs are driving a change in the face of small business in SA and across the continent.

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Dynamic Women Building Business In SA
 Dynamic Women Building Business In SA

This is according to dynamic South African women who now run their own successful businesses and will be speaking Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo in Johannesburg this month, where the Standard Bank Women in Business Workshop will be staged.

While the 2014 SME Survey by World Wide Worx found that just 8% of South African SMEs are female-owned businesses, a recent Seed Academy Real State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa 2017 survey said the gap between male and female entrepreneurs was starting to narrow as women represented 47% of entrepreneurs surveyed.

With informal businesses thought to account for a large number of the SMEs owned by women, the actual number of women-owned businesses in South Africa is difficult to determine. But leading women entrepreneurs believe the number of women launching their own businesses is rising fast.

Shirley Anthony, speaker, author and Marketing Consultant at Marketing Breakthroughs, has owned her own business for 23 years. Among her many achievements, she has carried out over 100 projects in 25 different sectors, designing a marketing formula soon to be launched online and releasing her practical marketing guide for entrepreneurs as a free download at www.marbreak.com.

She believes the ‘glass ceiling’ that held women back in the past is disappearing. “Within major corporates, gender mainstreaming is starting to take place but the upper echelon is still male dominated; so we find that women who are serious about business tend to start their own,” she says. For many women, family responsibilities are a major consideration, so the flexibility offered by owning a business is also a compelling reason for them to take the plunge, says Anthony.

Kathryn Main, CEO of Main Multimedia and Money Savvy Kids, believes women entrepreneurship is a hot topic across Africa: “Women are starting to take the reins in entrepreneurship. It’s a movement that is gaining momentum, possibly because we’re often forced to start our own businesses.”

Main, who launched her first business in 2010, did so for the flexibility it gave her to spend time with her children. “I may get up at four in the morning and work over weekends, but I make my own hours and I enjoy that flexibility.”

Her businesses may be very successful now, but Main says she once suffered from the same lack of confidence many other women still experience.

“For many women, fear of failure gets in the way. We’re always self-flagellating – we seem to have been conditioned to believe we don’t have the capacity to own our own businesses.  We have to learn to have faith in ourselves,” she says.

Up against the patriarchy

Dynamic and successful entrepreneur Marang Marekimane, founder of Business Process Mechanics, believes women still face challenges in business: “We are still a patriarchal society as a whole, particularly in rural areas. There are some instances where men will still see me as the ‘pretty face’ in the room and not as the brain in the room. But I’m comfortable in my experience and credentials, and I’m very unapologetic about who I am, so there’s little that can be done to deter me in business,” she says.

In addition to running her own successful business, Marekimane also offers consulting to business accelerator programmes. “I deal with a lot of women in business, and I have noticed younger entrepreneurs are coming into the market with a lot of fire; with their sense of self intact, and probably more willing to take risks than women who are older. But she believes that no matter what their age, any time is a good time for a woman to start a business.”

“>There are highs and lows in business ownership, she concedes, but nonetheless she would not want to go back to working for a large corporate. “I like to say I am unemployable now – my mindset is very different from what it was when I was an employee. Now, I have found my internal drivers and the work I do validates me. I get to change lives, and this keeps me motivated,” she says.

Starting successfully

“>Getting started in business demands careful planning and preparation, they say.

Anthony notes that early corporate experience is an excellent base on which to build your own business. “I learnt my own marketing skills within major FMCG firms before launching my own business,” she says. With a solid background in the industry and a personal dedication to ‘doing the homework’ before meeting with clients, Anthony says she has never encountered business challenges that arose as a result of her being a woman.

Marekimane also believes her early start in a corporate environment helped her build the skills she now uses as a business owner. In addition, it was crucial for her to discover what motivated her, to help her decide to make the leap to business ownership.

Main says whether you’re driven to launch a new business because of circumstances or opportunity, it’s important to plan thoroughly.

“I planned and prepared for two years before actually leaving my full-time job and going on my own,” she says. She also recommends having 3 to 6 months’ salary saved, to cover costs while the business is finding its feet.

“My personal business ‘power secrets’ are networking and ongoing learning,” she says.

“I go to all the business events and accelerator programmes I can, and I am continually educating myself. Events such as the Small Business Expo, with networking opportunities and free workshops are a must for business owners, because you have to stay on top of trends and network every chance you get.”

“Passion sells and runs your business,” adds entrepreneur and MD of Reed Exhibitions Carol Weaving. “We’ve seen this time and again among the thousands of businesses that have participated in exhibition and its workshops over the years.”

The Small Business Expo and co-located #BuyaBusiness Expo will be held at the Ticketpro Dome in Northriding from 31 August to 2 September, when up to 10,000 entrepreneurs will network and learn from business experts in 90 presentations over three days.

The event, the premier hub for small business development presented by Reed Exhibitions in partnership with Eskom, showcasing 190 small businesses, business opportunities and service providers, as well as training and insight for South Africa’s small businesses and would-be entrepreneurs.


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Great Bunch Of Entrepreneurs Make Top 10 In The Workspace/MiWay Competition

The top 10 in The Workspace/MiWay entrepreneur competition have been selected.

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After an intense four-month process, the top 10 contenders in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur competition have been notified that they’re through to the next round. These entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the judges, who will then whittle down the number of contenders to five, from which the winner will be chosen.

“There has been great excitement over the past four months. As every single new entry came in, we would clap our hands and cheer,” said Mari Schourie, CEO of The Workspace. It was a tough job judging all the entries to reach the top 20 submissions, she said, before having to find the top 10.

“We’ve had really strong entries submitted by people with good business knowledge,” said Schourie. “You can see the willingness to work hard and the great amount of effort they have put into their initiatives.”

Schourie said judges saw “wonderful ideas and fabulous business minds and quality people with big dreams shine through the entries”.

The top 10 are:

  1. Loyal 1
  2. Dwyka Mining Services
  3. Minatlou Trading 251
  4. Sindis Best for all
  5. Convergence Three
  6. Zinde Zinde
  7. Matla Risk Management
  8. Artsort Trading
  9. Iconic Talent Agency
  10. Nthedikgwadi Transport Services

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Schourie said she wished she could tell President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports the growth of small business as an economic driver, “the ideas and the passion that these business owners have is inspiring and should be focused on more”.

The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.

Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, said the theme that ran throughout the entries was that entrepreneurs wanted to make a difference and contribute to positive change in South Africa. “Many of the submissions focused on technical and developmental fields,” he said.

“Entrepreneurs recognise gaps in the market and see the potential for growth. Getting into the top 10 was not at all easy.”

Stoltz said South Africa had a “great bunch of entrepreneurs” and that standing together to give them a platform to launch was an exciting opportunity. “To grow our economy we need to help with skills development and give whatever assistance we can,” he said.

Part of the finalists’ road to the top includes a skills development programme for the top 10 entrants ahead of their important date to pitch their business plans to the judges.

As Schourie pointed out, it is vital to encourage South African citizens to act on their dreams and passions because “it can be a great success; they just need make that leap”.

Dates to watch:

  • 21 June: Top 10 skills development programme
  • 3 July: Top 10 pitches
  • 6 July: Top 5 announcement
  • 20 July: Final five workshops
  • 10 August: Final five pitches
  • 13 September: Winner announced

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Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa

After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.

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SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.

“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”

From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.

The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.

“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.

The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:

  • Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
  • South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
  • Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
  • Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
  • Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
  • Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
  • Ireland: Pago Payments

It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.

There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.

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She Works Hard For Her Money – So Pay Her On Time

Sage research finds that female entrepreneurs suffer more negative effects from late payments than men. Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Sage Pay, comments on the importance of equal pay for equal work.

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Women fight inequality and discrimination every day. They fight for equal pay for equal work. They challenge gender stereotypes in their careers and personal lives. They question unfair social and political norms. They unify under passionate causes, evidenced recently by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.

With female business builders making up nearly 40% of the global workforce – and heading up 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises in South Africa – any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.

The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. But inequality still exists and more needs to be done to eradicate it.

Recent research by Sage highlights that this discrimination doesn’t just impact women in large corporates. Indeed, it identified a worrying trend: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.

South Africa was among the six regions (out of 11) surveyed by Sage that reported higher instances of women business builders being paid late. Businesses run by female entrepreneurs in South Africa report that 18% of invoices are paid late and 10% of invoices are written off as bad debt.

Small businesses cannot absorb these costs nor the lost hours spent on admin – amounting to R564 000 in South Africa. The result can be disastrous: in the next 12 months, 1 in 4 female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive. If these businesses are not paid on time, they will also struggle to pay bonuses and suppliers, and will be forced to delay investments in their businesses.

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

The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of a wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments amongst female entrepreneurs – more so than men.

In South Africa, the stigma extends past culture, with 40% of Small & Medium Businesses failing to follow up on late payments to protect client relationships. Time and resources are also challenges, with 24% of small businesses saying they don’t have a dedicated resource to chase payments and 13% saying they don’t have time.

There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.

Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a force for good, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.

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