According to the South African Women Entrepreneurs’ Network, approximately 70% of informal businesses in South Africa are owned or controlled by women. Good news, right? Well, not if you consider that just 8% of SMEs in South Africa are owned by women according to the 2014 SME Survey.
This extreme informal-formal business divide is puzzling. What’s stopping women entrepreneurs from taking a step in the formal direction? Robyn Farrell, executive head of 1st for Women, cites barriers including lack of financial resources, lack of networking opportunities and gender stereotypes.
“Our economy needs more women entrepreneurs to take the plunge. To break down these age-old barriers, women entrepreneurs need all the encouragement and support they can get,” says Farrell.
One such event that does just that is Kamers vol Geskenke, a colourful celebration of local creativity, innovation and talent. Kamers was established in 2003 and showcases over 200 traders, 95% of which are women, selling an array of handcrafted wares. This year, Kamers is proudly sponsored by 1st for Women Insurance.
Farrell offers the following advice for women wanting to start their own business:
- Don’t be afraid to take risks: As author Erica Jong once said, “If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”
- Don’t underestimate your entrepreneurial spirit: Any entrepreneur will tell you that if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Trust your instincts to bring your business vision to life.
- It’s not what you know, but who you know: Network, network and then network some more. When you’re done, find a mentor – someone who has had success as an entrepreneur, someone who inspires you and with who you can share ideas, get advice, learn and grow.
- Rally a support network: You will have some bad days, and some good days, but at the end of the day, it’s good to know that you have supportive friends and family members that you can turn to for some much-needed encouragement. Think of them as your own personal cheerleading squad.
- Where there’s a will there’s a way: No one ever said that starting up a new business is easy. It requires determination, a change in lifestyle and stamina. What you put in, is what you get out though and by applying yourself, you will no doubt reap the rewards of success.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.