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South African Women Want To Own A Business – But Crave Financial Stability And Lack Support Structures

New research from Sage Foundation, ‘The Hidden Factors: SA Women in Business’ offers insight into the motivations and aspirations of South African women in the business world.

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Jennifer Warawa
Jennifer Warawa

Left: Jennifer Warawa: executive vice president of partners, accountants and alliance at Sage, at the breakfast on 25 July
Middle: Guest speaker, Basetsana Kumalo – spoke about her journey to entrepreneurship
Right: MC for the morning, Redi Tlhabi

If you’re a South African woman who is thinking of going into business for yourself, yet fear the financial risks of doing so, you are not alone.

New research conducted by Livingfacts commissioned by Sage Foundation, reveals that more than 50% of women believe corporate jobs are ‘a safer option’. And, only 20% of those who don’t own a business felt they have the necessary network to support their family responsibilities.

The study pinpoints a need for financial stability and a low tolerance for risk-taking and failure are among the most significant factors holding back female entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Undertaken in partnership with the International Women’s Forum South Africa (IWFSA), the research highlights the obstacles that women face, including:

  • a lack of exposure to entrepreneurial role models in their families and communities;
  • poor access to funding; and
  • the challenge of juggling personal and work responsibilities.

Related: How Ramona Kasavan Built An Organisation That Helps Women Empower Themselves

Nonetheless, the research also shows that South African women admire entrepreneurs and increasingly see entrepreneurship as a viable pathway to personal growth and wealth creation.

Sage Foundation and IWFSA unveiled the study at a breakfast for IWFSA members, business partners, customers and entrepreneurs at The Park House of Events on 7th in Hyde Park, Johannesburg on 25 July.

Sage Foundation and IWFSA conducted the research to fill the gap for data about the motivations and aspirations of South African women in the formal business sector. Sage Foundation has made a global commitment to women as part of its effort to build sustainable social, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities in Sage’s local communities around the world – but helping starts with having the right information at hand.

The study provides fresh insight into what drives South African women to establish businesses of their own, why they succeed and why they fail.

The hidden Factors sage

The research highlights how critical it is for NGOs, government policymakers and other stakeholders to position entrepreneurship as a viable career path for young women and to provide them with mentoring and support as they build their businesses.

1Family role models needed to encourage girls from an early age

Only 20% of women in the survey and a mere 16% of respondents who do not have their own business agreed that having your own business was seen as a viable career choice when they were growing up.

Most women saw corporate jobs as a safer option, with more than half (51%) saying “it is definitely important to me to have financial security and a stable salary”. Nearly a quarter of women saw losing these benefits as a deterrent to starting their own businesses. 

The research indicates that few women get exposure to entrepreneurial role models in their formative years, with only 15% saying that they definitely had family and friends who often talked about business when they were young and only 29% who said that there definitely was a successful business owner in the family and extended family.

The lack of a role model carries through into women’s careers and later lives, too: Only 14% of women reported that they have a business mentor or role model.

“Young women need to be exposed to the possibilities and the benefits of having their own business at home, in their communities and schools, and in the media”, says Joanne van der Walt, Sage Foundation Programme Manager for Africa.

family-role-models

2The flexibility paradox

Some 59% of respondents who quit corporate jobs to set up a business said a key reason for doing so was that they wanted flexibility around how they managed family and work commitments. Yet 19% who gave up their entrepreneurial ventures to return to the corporate world cited a need for flexibility as the reason they went back to full-time employment.

Only 20% of those who currently don’t have a business felt they definitely had the necessary network of family and friends that can support their family responsibilities. What’s more, a higher percentage (70%) of women running their own businesses were married or living with someone who provides support, financially and in other ways.

Says Van der Walt: “Starting and running a business is far more time intensive than many women realise. Often, for women, a nine-to-five corporate job allows for more time with one’s family, and would-be entrepreneurs struggle to maintain balance between work and their personal lives – especially in the first few critical years of building a business. Changing gender stereotypes of who does what in a family and women overcoming their own reluctance to ask for help are key changes that could encourage female entrepreneurship.”

The flexibility paradox

Related: Why Donna Rachelson Believes The Secret To Your Business Success Lies With Women

3The risk-factor

Female entrepreneurs show more appetite for risk than women who have not gone into business. The research found that 26% of women who did not have a business said they were not afraid to take risks, compared to 43% who had their own business. Meanwhile, 37% of those that never had a business thought it was scary to be in business for yourself.

“Many families encourage young women to look for government or corporate employment, seeing this as a lower risk route for their future careers,” comments Van der Walt.

“Yet with youth joblessness at above 50%, many of our young women may never have a corporate job. We need to help young women see the risks and potential failures of entrepreneurship as learning experiences on the road to growth and prosperity.”

risk-factor

4Capital and funding remains a primary necessity

Female entrepreneurs are finding access to capital and funding to be as much of an obstacle to starting their own businesses as their male counterparts in South Africa – if not more. Most (84%) women started a business using their own savings to do so; very few obtained funding from traditional banks and even less knew about venture capital, angel or seed funding, grants, or crowdsourcing.

Some 61% of women who have never had a business cited not having access to money or capital to start their own business, as a barrier, while 33% of those who went back to corporate jobs after starting a business said it was a key stumbling block.

Capital and funding remains a primary necessity

5The rewards of being your own boss

The study confirmed that women are attracted to the benefits of being rewarded for their own efforts and the freedom to be their own boss when it comes to entrepreneurship.

They also saw entrepreneurship as a way to find personal growth and meaning, make a difference, achieve financial independence, give women a voice and control of their own futures, and create and innovate.

Among those that do not own a business:

  • 58% admire entrepreneurs
  • 42% want to work for themselves rather than someone else
  • 36% envisage having their own business (even higher among young black women)
  • 36% believe you can make a significant amount of money.

The rewards of being your own boss

“The emergence of a growing community of female entrepreneurs is one of the most significant economic and social developments in the world. It is not merely redefining women’s economic roles; it is reshaping the modern global economy,” says Van der Walt. “Our research shows that this trend is also unfolding in South Africa – but it also highlights how much more we need to do to unleash the full potential of our country’s female entrepreneurs.”

Says Mpho Letlape, deputy president at IWFSA: “It’s a privilege to partner with Sage Foundation for this initiative. Research is vital for understanding how women are moving forward in the South African business world.  With more insight into the challenges facing businesswomen and female entrepreneurs, we can focus on the areas where intervention is most needed.  Right now, women leaders have an opportunity to make a difference in society, and help heal our nation.”

Sage Foundation will use the findings of this research to engage with policymakers and social NGOs about ways to encourage and support female entrepreneurs – starting from their school years. Sage Foundation already works with NGOs that support financial literacy programmes at primary and high school level. It will look for more NGO partners that it can work with to help remove some of the barriers that women face when they go into business for themselves.

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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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.

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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 www.allangrayorbis.org 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 www.allangrayorbis.org and www.facebook.com/allangrayorbis.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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