As for the nation, entrepreneurship is the growth engine of regional economies, and the Eastern Cape is set to benefit as the Standard Bank Top Women Regional Conference sparks innovative ideas for businesswomen in Port Elizabeth.
Debuting on 23 November at the Radisson Blu Hotel, the conference boasts a full schedule of events that includes networking sessions and VIP guest speakers such as entrepreneur, philanthropist, landscaping expert and CEO Magazine’s most influential women in business and government within the SME sector for 2015/2016 Mimi Rupp and Xoliswa Daku, Founder and CEO of DCI Holdings and Daku Group, and Standard Bank Top Women in Property Award winner 2017.
Karla Fletcher, Marketing Director at Topco Media & Communications, says that the highlight of the conference is undoubtedly the opportunity to hear, first-hand and close-up, from some of the most iconic South African women of our time.
After previously only occurring every year in Johannesburg, demand increased so much that it’s being taken further afield, so more up-and-coming entrepreneurs countrywide can reap the rewards. The aim of our initiative is to open the doors to far more opportunities for women; in South Africa, women entrepreneurs make up less than 5% of the entrepreneurial population – well below the global average.
According to Jayshree Naidoo, Head of the Standard Bank Incubator, the best way to spark growth and jobs is for entrepreneurial activity to flourish, but limited access to markets is one of the most difficult hurdles for entrepreneurs to overcome. Initiatives like the Top Women Regional Conference are just one of the many ways we are trying to change this, and in a province with so much potential, we believe we have a good chance of reaching success.
Though the Eastern Cape currently lags the national economy due to lower productivity manufacturing – its mainstay – there are positive signs: its share of construction, for instance, increased from 2% in 2004 to 4% in 2014, and public and private initiatives are kicking into gear and creating room for growth throughout their supply chains. Furthermore, green innovation, tourism and small-scale farmers making waves in food production are also driving the province’s economy forward.
“What makes this conference unique is entrepreneurs will be able to pitch their ideas for exposure and advice,” says Ms Naidoo. “Through engagement with expert panellists, delegates come away with solutions to any gender empowerment issues they may be facing.”