Women, youth entrepreneurs are facing unique challenges, says Absa

Published Jun 28, 2024


ABSA yesterday said entrepreneurs in South Africa, particularly women and youth, were facing unique challenges, especially due to structural challenges within the economy that perpetuate inequality.

The bank said this as the world marked International Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day.

The UN General Assembly designated June 27 as the International Day for MSMEs in recognition of the importance of MSMEs in promoting economic growth and job creation.

It provides an opportunity to highlight the crucial role of MSMEs in sustainable development and advocate for policies that support their growth.

An Absa spokesperson said this was while this country was known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Women entrepreneurs in many cases must juggle the responsibilities of a home and family against business demands.

“Equally, they may struggle with various barriers, including access to finance, financial literacy, training, business consulting and socio-cultural constraints,” said the spokesperson.

“And despite the rise in unemployment among youth, the number of young people involved in entrepreneurial activity remains extremely low. The need for youth participation is becoming more and more vital.

“Youth entrepreneurs tend to break away from tradition and are more adaptable to embrace disruptive technologies, thus reducing the dependence on obsolete systems and conventional business models.”

Absa said it believed appropriate resources and sharing of experiences could go a long way in unlocking the potential of women and young entrepreneurs.

“South African entrepreneurs continue to start new and exciting small businesses every year and at Absa we want to be active partners throughout their journey as part of our commitment to empowering Africa’s tomorrow, together, one story at a time.”

Absa said MSMEs and entrepreneurship played a crucial role in stimulating economic activity by creating jobs, alleviating poverty and uplifting living standards.

“MSME Day, observed globally, highlights the importance of these enterprises and underscores the need for their support and development.”

As part of broader efforts to transform the economic competitiveness of the country, Absa said it was fully committed to support MSMEs along their journey by building strong relationships with them and creating innovative solutions that met their unique needs.

“MSMEs were a vital part of our strategy at Absa - we value the contribution that they make to our society and we strive to cater for their unique needs through financial and non-financial support.”

The financial services provider said although women and youth entrepreneurs played a meaningful part in economic development, their contribution had not been sufficiently nurtured and developed.

“In light of this, at Absa we designed and launched a banking solution, specifically designed with these business owners in mind,” Absa said.

“The solution offers various benefits, including the waiver of certain fees to alleviate financial pressure as well as non-financial support such as access to networking and critical business skills.”

Recently, the Youth Employment Service CEO, Ravi Naidoo, said South Africa was at a point of crisis and must not waste the opportunity to “up its game”.

“Due mainly to failing economic infrastructure and dysfunctional public schooling, levels of youth unemployment have reached unprecedented levels,” Naidoo said.

He added that unkindly, the country was additionally forced to contend with a changing world of work, which put an additional premium on experience and technology.

“For South Africa, after three decades of decidedly incoherent and mostly state-centric policies, it is evident that most of our recent progress emerged through effective partnerships between the state and the private sector.”