Women have made amazing progress in the business world in recent years. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to support women entrepreneurs. This article provides reasons it’s so important to give them a boost.
According to the latest Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), South Africa is one of only 12 economies where women’s entrepreneurial activity rates increased, with 11.1% of working-age women engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activities.
The index goes on to say; ‘while South Africa moved up one place from 2020 to rank thirty-seventh in 2021, with a score of 54.9, women’s advancement remains hampered by less supportive entrepreneurial conditions compared with other global economies ranking in the following order:
1. The US, which ranked first, with a score of 69.9;
2. New Zealand, ranked second, with a score of 69.8; and
3. Canada in third, with a score of 68.6.’
Today, women business owners are a powerful force in the U.S. economy. They own over 11 million businesses, employ nearly 9 million people, and generate over $1.4 trillion in revenues, according to the National Women’s Business Council.
Also worthy of celebrating is that “South Africa moved up two places on the Women Business Owner benchmark to rank forty-fourth, with 21.9% of all businesses owned by women in 2021 versus 21.1% in 2020. Botswana (38.5%) ranks first in the world with the highest percentage of women business owners, followed by Uganda (38.4%) and Ghana (37.2%)”. (MIWE).
Women-owned businesses are growing at a very healthy rate. In some cases, at a rate of five times the national average. Women entrepreneurs are obviously an essential part of any economy.
– They create jobs,
– Drive innovation,
– Fuel growth in sectors like retail and healthcare,
– They are also driving change within existing businesses – making them more diverse and inclusive as leaders.
Despite this and other significant advances in gender equality:
– Women continue to face barriers when starting and growing businesses.
– They are less likely than men to have access to capital, networks, and mentors.
– They are more likely to face work/life balance issues and gender bias.
– Women-owned businesses are less likely to receive incubation or funding and are more likely to be informal businesses without legal registration.
As a result, women entrepreneurs often have difficulty accessing the resources and networks they need to succeed.
The fact that ‘women entrepreneurial activity rates and that women necessity-driven entrepreneurship surpassed that of men in South Africa’, means more needs to be done to support women entrepreneurs.
Business support programmes can even the playing field for women in business. By providing training and access to networks, business and entrepreneurship development support programmes can help women entrepreneurs overcome some of the unique challenges they face.
How to support women entrepreneurs
Countries and corporate companies with SME development support programmes that invest in women-owned businesses often see a much more positive return on their investment. They also gain access to new markets and new ideas, which can help them stay competitive in today’s global marketplace.
There are many ways to support women entrepreneurs. Here are a few:
· Provide access to capital: Provide women access to uniquely tailored financing support to start and grow their businesses. This can include invoice financing, lines of credit, loans and preferential investments.
· Increase mentorship and networking opportunities: Connect women entrepreneurs with mentors, role models, and peers who can offer advice, support, and guidance.
· Break down gender barriers: Advocate for policies that level the playing field for women in business. This includes policies and implementation that encourage paid family leave, hybrid and flexible working hours, and access to childcare support.
The benefits and advantages
There are many reasons why we MUST support women entrepreneurs. Here are some of the benefits and advantages of supporting women-owned businesses:
- They are the fastest growing segment.
- Women are more likely than men to start businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible.
- They have a unique perspective and bring a different skillset to the table, which can lead to more innovative businesses.
- Women are often more risk-averse than men, which can lead to more sustainable businesses.
- Women tend to be better at multitasking and managing multiple balls in the air, which is an important skill for any business owner.
Supporting women entrepreneurs helps to create a level playing field and builds a stronger economy for everyone. This is not only good for the economy‚ it’s good for business, period.
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