The realm of business is constantly evolving and one of the most noticeable changes is the fact that women are starting to stand out like never before, as business owners and in high-power positions, across the African continent. This fact is echoed based on statistics gathered by the World Bank. According to data, Africa is the continent that currently boasts the highest growth rate of female-run businesses in the entire world.
Countries like Angola and Madagascar can proudly proclaim that there is an almost-equal entrepreneurship rate between male and female citizens. Unfortunately, South Africa is still lagging behind somewhat, with 34% of SMEs being female owned as of 2018. Despite this, other research points to the reality that women are oftentimes the sole breadwinners for their families. No matter how we look at it, women are the true backbone of our society, and they simply do not receive the appreciation or the admiration that they are due.
Providing for family
According to research gathered in a report by the South African Board for People Practices’ (SABPP), around half of all households in South Africa are headed by a female. Further to this, the report states that mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in four out of 10 homes, working tirelessly to put food on the table and to keep their households up and running.
Based on this data, it is evident that South African women are working hard – so why aren’t they the ones spearheading the businesses?
The truth is that there are still countless challenges standing in the way of female business success – challenges that are simply not shared by their male counterparts. For example, women still carry around a lower social status and continue to struggle to maintain a sense of equality within a harsh, patriarchal society. In many cases, they have access to less capital and own fewer assets as a direct result of this status disadvantage.
In some rural regions of the country, young females have the pressure of fulfilling their ‘womanly’ duties thrust onto them at a very young age, often handling a significant number of chores like cooking, cleaning, and child-minding their younger siblings. These pressures at home can impact how well they are able to perform at school, which can have far-reaching consequences on their future opportunities regarding tertiary education.
It is also important to highlight the fact that in certain instances, a woman’s purpose for starting a business may be very different to that of a man’s. A male entrepreneur is likely to start a business to make a profit, to fulfil a vision, or purely because he is passionate about something. For a number of females, and single mothers especially, it is all about survival and earning an income to support their families.
Yet, still, despite the many setbacks, the struggles, and the ‘traditional’ expectations, countless ambitious young females push forward in an effort to make something of themselves, to stand out, to succeed. We celebrate the women who have done this and seek to empower those who wish to do the same.
Telkom Business is constantly looking out for ways in which to support and empower local female entrepreneurs. The hope is that the launch of the Yep! app will play a substantial role in doing just that. With a sizeable portion of female-owned SMEs existing in rural areas, a huge majority have not yet managed to a digital means of trading. This reality puts these female-owned businesses at risk, particularly during the times of COVID.
The Yep! marketplace allows business owners to create a digital ‘shopfront’ and to start trading digitally in a matter of minutes and at a minimal cost compared to the expenses usually associated with creating a website and nurturing an online presence. It provides the female business owner leading in the frontline with the opportunity to embrace technology that supports and advances her SME in the accelerated digital age.
The ultimate goal for Yep! and Telkom Business is to leverage the power of digital in an effort to give our incredible women their own power back.