Growth in female entrepreneurship vital for SA’s economic prosperity

According to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Women’s Report, in 2012, an estimated 126 million women were starting or running new businesses in 67 economies around the world. In addition, an estimated 98 million were running established businesses. Across the regions, Sub-Saharan Africa exhibits the highest average intentions, with 52% of women possessing the intention to start a business in the next three years.

Gugu-Mjadu-webAccording to Gugu Mjadu, Executive General Manager of Business Partners Limited, female clients currently make up 38,9% of their client book and over the past financial year 41,2% of disbursements were invested in female businesses. The distribution of disbursements made to female businesses has also remained constant, averaging at 40,5% over the past three financial years.

“As a company we remain committed to empowering female entrepreneurs, and this is evidenced by our statistics. For instance, while only 24,5% of finance applications received by Business Partners Limited in the last financial year were submitted by female businesses, they accounted for 35,9% of all applications approved.”

Mjadu says that their statistics also reveal that of these female businesses, 37,1% are run by black individuals. “21,5% of these female run businesses operate within the real estate services space, followed by hotel services, which make up 12,5% of these businesses. The majority of female businesses operate within Western Cape (29,5%), Gauteng (19,8%) & KwaZulu-Natal (19,6%).”

She says that the average category age of these female clients is 46 – 55 years. “This is probably due to the fact that females in this age category have learnt a great deal, both personally and professionally, and are more confident at this stage of their lives to venture into their own business.”

Referring to the GEM Women’s Report, Mjadu explains that when it comes to established business activity, South Africa has equal percentages of women and men running established businesses. “Other than five economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and three from different regions, in all other economies there are fewer women than men at this business stage.”

She explains that ultimately, the growth of female entrepreneurship is very positive for the South African economy. “Not only are these women creating jobs for themselves and providing for their families, they are employing various other South Africans, who are then able to provide for their families. The continued female involvement in the SME sector is a key contributor to economic growth, as well as job creation in South Africa.”

Mjadu says research confirms that when a female entrepreneur is funded, the opportunities and wealth which they create with this funding is likely to be spread further than when a male is funded. “This is because females are more likely to share wealth and resources with family, employees and shareholders.”

She explains that female entrepreneurs also have an added responsibility as they are often breadwinners in their families and perceived as role models to the younger generation. “Success stories often inspire young females to pursue their own goals and can therefore lead to the empowerment of even more women in society.”

She says that South Africa however still does have a far way to go when it comes to developing female owned businesses and entrepreneurs. “According to the GEM Women’s Report, the Total Entrepreneurship Activity rate in South Africa is rather low when compared to neighbouring African economies. We need to create an environment within South Africa which encourages females to embrace opportunities, develop successful businesses and see entrepreneurship as a viable career option,” concludes Mjadu.