Understanding Africa’s formal female entrepreneurship sector

Very little research is available to help us understand the courageous women of Africa who trade in their full time employment for the world of entrepreneurship as the research that does exist comes from studies carried out in developed economies. In the developing world, and South Africa specifically research has mostly focused on the informal sector leaving us in the dark about the formal sector and the women who own these businesses.

“South Africa places high value on entrepreneurship as our economy looks to entrepreneurs as critical drivers of growth and job creation but if these efforts are to succeed, we need to move beyond a focus on informal sector enterprises and understand more about what drives success in the formal sector and how to support these businesses,” says Karabo Keepile – Managing Director of Nasedi Media & Communications, event organisers of Women in Business Seminar 2016. “These are the entrepreneurs whose efforts are likely to have the greatest impact, and if properly supported, their contribution could radically change the trajectory of the economy,” adds Keepile.

The SME Growth Index – Conducted by business environment specialists SBP – was conceived to study the dynamics of the country’s under-examined formal small and medium enterprise sector over a period of time. The most comprehensive study of its kind to be undertaken in South Africa – it involves a survey of a randomly-selected panel of 500 firms, employing between 10 and 50 people in the manufacturing, business services and tourism sectors. The study reveals some of the key dynamics driving women entrepreneurs in South Africa’s SMEs and examines whether and in what ways women entrepreneurs are different from their male counterparts.

“Women in Business Seminar aims to put a face to female entrepreneurs on the continent, to bring these women together and to help foster alliances between their businesses which will ultimately impact positively on these businesses as well as the communities in which these businesses operate,” adds Keepile.

Motivation for female entrepreneurs

Comparative studies indicate that women are motivated to a higher degree than equally qualified men to become entrepreneurs for family-related lifestyle reasons; and that women are less motivated than men by wealth creation and advancement reasons. Among the SME Growth Index panellists, however, the motivations of the panellists in the SME Growth Index are heavily opportunity-driven. Majorities among both our male and female panellists were motivated by pull factors. Roughly equal proportions of men women had done so out of necessity. Considerable proportions of both groups were motivated by a combination of opportunity and necessity factors – highlighting the ambiguities that might accompany a decision to enter an entrepreneurial career

According to the study, one small but important difference between the genders is that men show a greater interest than women in expanding into new markets, typically outside South Africa. Only one in five women-owned SMEs is exporting, against nearly one third of those owned by men. The largest difference between the genders’ export behaviour is found in manufacturing: nearly half of all manufacturing firms owned by men export, while only 29% of those owned by women do so. Again, this is consistent with the findings of international studies, which show that women are more likely than men to have businesses with a geographically localised client base. The studies panel showed not only that women are keen to grow their businesses, but also that they are more positive about the business environment and the future than their male counterparts. Over the three years that the SME Growth Index has been running, one of the clearest messages that pops up is that business owners are finding the environment increasingly tough. Although this view has been expressed across the panel, it is somewhat less prevalent among women than among men. In fact, around 14% of women entrepreneurs believe that it has become easier to do business.

Professor Brush, Chair of Entrepreneurship at Babson College in the United States described the global growing community of women entrepreneurs as “one of the most significant economic and social developments in the world.” According to the International Labour Organisation women entrepreneurs now account for a quarter to a third of all businesses in the formal economy worldwide. This is not merely forcing us to rethink women’s economic roles, this phenomenon is literally changing the modern global economy.

To purchase your ticket to attend Women in Business Seminar 2016. Visit wibs.org.za , call +27 10 593 0595 or email info@nasedimedia.com

Tickets are available to attend Women in Business Seminar 2016. To book your tickets email karabok@nasedimedia.com or call +27 10 593 0595

For more information on Women in Business Seminar 2016 visit www.wibs.org.za

For media queries, interview requests please contact Nasedi Media & Communications on sindiswan@nasedimedia.com or +27 10 593 0595

Issued by Nasedi Media & Communications on behalf of Women in Business Seminar 2016

Notes:

About Women in Business Seminar 2016

This is a seminar for women, by women about women entrepreneurs. It is a must-attend event for females in business and or those looking to start businesses. By congregating in one space we hope to encourage learning, sharing and encouragement for all female entrepreneurs in South Africa who have dared to take a leap of faith to run their own establishments.

Topics of discussion will focus on female leadership on the continent; financing your business and opportunities for women in business.

Sponsorship opportunities are available and delegate tickets are now on sale. For more information on Women in Business Seminar 2016 visit wibs.org.za or call Tel: +27 10 593 0595.

For media interviews, media accreditation contact sindiswan@nasedimedia.com

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