In South Africa, entrepreneurship remains a central key to unlocking a truly inclusive economy. As the country turns its attention to rebuilding during the midst of an ongoing pandemic, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been identified as an integral source of employment and poverty alleviation. In South Africa, SMEs account for about 60% of the labour force, making them an irreplaceable part of building a robust economy of meaningful employment. And although all SMEs face barriers in operation, compliance and sustainability, the entrepreneurial landscape has been particularly challenging for female entrepreneurs to navigate.
While businesses owned by women are becoming more and more common around the world, there is still a great need for entrepreneurial support for women. With the appropriate resources and training, women can become major contributors to economic growth. Historically, men and women have performed contrasting roles within society. While men were mostly involved in economic activity, women were mostly homebound, taking care of children, cooking, and performing essential household duties. It is over simplistic to label this exclusively as oppression, but it is also fair to say that women require assistance that addresses their unique developmental needs and nurtures their potential in a very specific way.
In almost all spheres of the economy, gender gaps in the ownership of assets lead
to difficulties in accessing business financing for female entrepreneurs. Moreover, there are challenges in securing access to the relevant skills, knowledge, markets, and networks required to create sustainable enterprises. This makes it vital to invest in women’s increased participation in the business landscape through training, coaching and mentorship. Organisations like Black Umbrellas and REGENT BUSINESS SCHOOL, which aim to provide entrepreneurial education and nurture innovation, are not only imperative to putting women at the forefront of economic recovery, but can also ensure that they contribute to the societal and cultural advancement of the country.
Women are dynamic, innovative, intelligent and capable. With support that ensures their sustainability, competencies and growth, they stand to become strong participants in communities, organisations and the economy at large.
Article by Rorisang Rathebe a member of the Black Umbrellas Group