WOMEN’S Month in South Africa is celebrated in August, in commemoration of the thousands of women of all races who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against Pass Laws for women.
This year’s Women’s Month theme is titled, “Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”, in solidarity with countries across the world who aim to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Gender equality in business is something financiers and everyday South Africans should continue to get behind, by supporting female entrepreneurs.
We have come a long way – according to the latest Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), South Africa ranks as the number one destination on the continent where female entrepreneurs can capitalise on opportunities that are supported within their communities. There are four key reasons why supporting female entrepreneurship is important in the South African context. Women are easier to finance One of the biggest challenges that female entrepreneurs are faced with in South Africa is access to finance. However, studies show that women manage their credit better than men and are therefore easier and more reliable to finance.
Our team at Business Partners is focused on tackling the issue of gender inequality in entrepreneurship.
We set targets for our teams for financing female-owned businesses and we aim to increase the targets every year.
It is our experience, as well as that of a, many other financial institutions that women are more likely to maintain good credit with lenders. Now is as good a time as any to leverage and reward their reliability.
Female entrepreneurs prioritise job creation.
According to the Lionesses of Africa’s most recent South African Women Entrepreneurs Job Creators Survey, job creation is a key motivation for female entrepreneurs.
Of the 913 women who participated in the study, 90 percent said creating employment was a “very important” consideration that was made when starting their businesses.
As the results of the survey showed, the average female entrepreneur employs five staff members, while the top 1% have a thousand or more employees.
Women prioritise job creation not only for themselves but for their family, friends and wider communities. With unemployment, particularly among the youth, being at a record high, female entrepreneurs could be the key to unlocking more sustainable employment opportunities.
In the words of philanthropist, author, medical doctor, mother and entrepreneur, Dr Judy Dlamini: “Equality isn’t simply a favour towards women but it makes economic sense.”
The vital role played by female role models
Some great examples of role models have emerged within the past decade, inspiring women who demonstrate financial literacy and who see the value of mentoring girls.
Mapalo Makhu comes to mind. She is a personal finance coach, public speaker, columnist, and entrepreneur. Her most recent book, You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich, is a prime example of the level of financial advice young people need.
Makhu is just one example of a female role model who believes that women can, and should, take charge of their finances as part of empowering themselves.
Her example is certainly one to follow and along with many other influential names in the industry, female entrepreneurs are becoming positive archetypes for the kind of business-savvy women the country is capable of producing.
Women continue to demonstrate tenacity
The latest MIWE reported that in South Africa, just under 60% of women work in the sectors that were the hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic, namely: retail, food shops and domestic services.
Despite the challenges, women have proved tenacious in their ability to adapt and innovate.
For example, having observed the exponential spike in e-commerce since the onset of the pandemic, many women are capitalising on the trend, finding inventive ways of selling products and services online.
Ben Bierman is managing director at Business Partners.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE