Female entrepreneurs encouraged to break away from concentrated sectors at Women in Business: Financing your Business Panel Discussion

On Wednesday 30 November 2016, Nasedi Media & Communications hosted the Women in Business: Financing your Business Panel Discussion in partnership with Wits Business School and Absa Enterprise Development at the Bert Wessels Lecture Theatre at Wits Business School in Parktown. On the panel was the Honourable Speaker Letheng Helen Mekgwe from the Gauteng Provincial Legislature; Charlton Thangalan, Provincial Manager, Absa Enterprise Development, Gauteng South; Conny Phaswana, Enterprise Development, Business Relationship Manager at The Innovation Hub and Thabani Nomvalo, Chief Investments Officer at IDF Capital.

The event, which was well attended by female business owners of both micro and macro organisations, was an eye opener for guests who were advised on the various business financing opportunities offered by the different organisations represented on the panel. The panel discussion facilitator Dr Thanti Mthanti, a senior lecturer in finance at Wits Business School assisted to lead the discussion.

Forty percent of African SME’s are women-owned or led and are funded through personal loans which can be an inhibitor to growth. Business financing in South Africa is allocated along gender lines as most financiers look to offer financial and other support to female entrepreneurs but the lack of compliance and information is often the hurdle standing in the way of female business owners getting access to such opportunities.

Phaswana told the female business owners that the struggle for SME’s was defining what they needed funding for. “Of all the businesses we support, 70% should be female owned, but we currently assist only 30%.”

The Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) champions issues of transformation, particularly women’s empowerment, through the Gauteng Legislature Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC). The MPWC is an advisory structure of the GPL, consisting of the GPL Women Parliamentarians from across party lines who; irrespective of gender, race, religion, culture, class and political affiliation, are united by a common interest in respect of the economic and socio-political wellbeing of women in Gauteng. The MPWC participated in the Panel Discussion because, one of its key objectives is to form strategic partnerships with both the private and public sectors, with the aim of contributing to the economic development of women in their diversity. Speaking during the opening address was The Hon. Speaker Mekgwe who spoke on the role of government in relation to transformation, particularly government’s plans to promote women entrepreneurs.

Speaking on the challenges that currently exist for female business owners Mekgwe encouraged female business owners not to shy away from establishing businesses previously reserved for men. “Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I need to only think of catering she advised, additionally women need to ask the right questions when it comes to business financing.” Thangalan agreed. Female owned SME’s tend to take up opportunities in the same industries and don’t venture in sectors where opportunities actually exist such as agriculture.” Thangalan also encouraged female business owners to use their business plans to tell a story. “By the time I get to the finance section I must already know why you need the money, I must just not know how much you need. According to Thangalan, Absa finances small businesses up to R3 million depending on your business plan. Business owners need to also understand why they need a BBB-EE certificate, it is a license to do business,” added Thangalan.

Nomvalo spoke on the importance of proper record keeping. Nomvalo encouraged female business owners not to neglect their cash flows and numbers. IDF Capital additionally provides a Technical Assistance Grant, has a Generalist Fund and is able to also assist SME’s with marketing.

Nasedi Media & Communications hosts several women in business sessions tailor made for female business owners looking to learn, share and network. “We aim to give female entrepreneurs the additional tools they need to grow and sustain their businesses through the organisation of such events,” says Karabo keepile, Managing Director of Nasedi Media, and event organisers of Women in Business.

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