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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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Off The Beaten Track

What Tourism Month means in South Africa and how Mango Airlines is focusing on local opportunities.

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This September, being Tourism Month, we have so much to talk about in South Africa, and so many people to engage with, both domestically and abroad. We are privileged to be able to leverage a broad range of destinations – arguably world-class in nature, and they expand way beyond a beautiful mountain, and an ecosystem of game.

The vast majority of leisure tourists, however, remain attracted to the Mother City and various Safari destination, while business tourists tend to stick to hub cities for short durations of time before departing again.

“There is a golden opportunity to expand on the same offerings – while not detracting from them in any way. Our responsibility is to drive tourism into new areas, really emphasising the differentiators that are incredibly attractive to local and international tourists,” said Benediction Zubane, Head of Marketing at Mango Airlines.

“Often tourists visit one of the more well-known sites in an area, and are completely unaware of the other features and destinations close by. We’re seeing a lot of success in township tourism which goes to show how diversifying can really drive new tourism opportunities,” explained Zubane.

Related: Travel Tour Agency Sample Business Plan

According to Statistics South Africa survey on Tourism and Migration, nearly 3.5 million international travellers visited South Africa in August 2017. Top numbers were tourists from USA, UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands, with African visitors primarily coming from SADC countries. Zubane added, “This means there is vast opportunity to begin engaging with travellers in new countries across the globe. We need to become our own best ambassador, talking-up our famous and lesser known destinations, proudly showcases our uniqueness. We should also be tourists in our own country and start exploring the wonders of the Rainbow Nation.”

Mango is passionate about helping its SMEs and entrepreneurial community to successfully overcome the unique challenges facing the tourism industry: “There has never been a more opportune time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit positively from tourism in South Africa, and we hope to celebrate alongside our SME community as they fly high – both literally and figuratively,” he concludes.

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FNB Receives 50 Million US-Dollars To Accelerate SME Development

First National Bank puts their focus on SME development in South Africa.

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First National Bank (FNB) has received 50 million US-dollars from the DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft to deploy towards small and medium enterprise (SME) development in South Africa.

DEG is a development finance institution whose mission is to promote private-sector enterprises in developing and emerging-market countries as a contribution to sustainable growth and improved living conditions.

Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business says: “The new line of funding contributes to our ongoing efforts to accelerate our contribution to SME development in South Africa. We believe that SMEs are key to stimulating sustainable economic growth and job creation. Our intervention in SME development is not only limited to funding, we also invest heavily to improve capacity and supplier development capabilities in small businesses.”

FNB continues to pioneer products and services that have taken the angst out of South Africa’s entrepreneurs, from providing free instant accounting services to online documents reservation services, and forming public-private partnerships to digitise the registration of businesses.

“Our message to entrepreneurs is that we remain committed to providing meaningful solutions to help them grow. We have exciting developments that will take us further in our journey, all aimed at advancing the SME agenda by taking the anguish out of doing business,” concludes Vacy-Lyle.

Related: The 10 Most Reliable Ways To Fund A Start-up

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A Conversation With Yourself Could Change Your Life

Thami Buti is a 24-year-old South African actor. He is amongst the 46% of South Africans between 20 and 50 years, who have no savings at all. He’s probably one of 90% of people who will retire with less than 50% of their income.

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Except none of this is true for Thami, because he’s had a conversation with himself – at six different ages – in Sanlam’s new educational campaign.

In Sanlam’s Conversations with Yourself campaign, Thami gets transformed into a 20, 30, 50, 65 and 80-year-old (actor Hlumelo Mzimkulu plays the 10-year-old) called YOU. And over a series of conversations, these characters in their different age brackets sit and share wisdom on life’s ‘what ifs.’ Disrupting the traditional approach to ‘finance talk’, the central idea is this: what if you could learn everything you need to know about life, from yourself? What if 65 year-old you could tell you – at age 20 – to stop buying so many cappuccinos and to invest more into an RA? And 30-year-old you could ask you at 80 how many kids you have – and how you afford to give them the lifestyle and opportunities you want for them?

Sonja Sanders, Head of Marketing and Client Experience at Sanlam Personal Finance, says each of the seven Conversations with Yourself films uses humour and insight to broach a different topic – and presents the accompanying product solve. “For example, the Conversation on Life and Retirement tackles retirement in a completely new way. Planning for retirement is often not a priority when you’re young. But what if you knew only 6% of South Africans are able to cover their monthly expenses once they retire? And what if you could ask your 65-year-old self whether you are one of the 6%? Would 20-year-old you still take that year off? Would you at age 30 still buy that flashy car?”

Using banter to bring home the fact that today’s decisions will define life when you’re older, the script takes a notoriously low-interest topic and makes it relatable.

The same goes for the highly sensitive topic of death, which no one wants to talk about — undoubtedly a problem in a country with an average age of death that stands at 64 years, and where 40% of the workforce is more likely to have cell phone insurance than life insurance.

Sanders says, “Conversations with Yourself takes an idea we’ve all had to the next level: The wish to fast-track into the future to see if our lives worked out the way we expected. Ultimately, you are your own partner in life. Everything you do now either benefits your future or jeopardises it. It’s often too daunting to imagine one’s future-self. But Conversations with Yourself connects the future to the present, and makes the experience real and impactful.”

Related: How To Start Saving Money Today

South Africa’s problematic savings culture has been well documented. In the retirement space, Sanlam’s Benchmark research has identified millennials as the generation most at risk of having insufficient savings, mainly due to their DIY approach to money matters, their mistrust of financial service institutions and the fact that they don’t identify with retirement as a goal. It’s a generation known for overconfidence despite their poor financial literacy. Millennials prefer self-directed advice – so what better way to deliver it than through a ‘conversation with yourself’?

“As WealthsmithsTM, Sanlam wants to empower people with the knowledge and tools to enable them to make positive financial decisions today. This should set them up for success both now and into the future. Conversations with Yourself helps people to appreciate that the planning they do today has significant implications for their future self. Ultimately, the campaign uses progressive storytelling to share a story to which any generation can relate. The story of you,” concludes Sanders.

Visit Conversationswithyourself to watch the films and start your own conversation.

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