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What do women entrepreneurs really want?
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142small.jpgA newly released survey reveals what drives and holds back female entrepreneurship in South Africa. Conducted by Standard Bank, some of the results are almost intuitive, while others are less obvious, showing that assumptions and stereotypes have little place in Africa’s business landscape.


Numerous studies show that jobs and economic growth on the continent will be dependent on innovation and entrepreneurship. But the survey of 130 South African female entrepreneurs, most of whom service the formal entrepreneurship market, found that most women still feel pressured to pursue a traditional career. Yet, if they follow their passions to become entrepreneurs, they are then pressured to be the “perfect businesswoman and homemaker”.


According to the survey, which was conducted in October to coincide with the first Lionesses of Africa Annual Conference in Johannesburg, female entrepreneurs need more resources (31%), support (24%) and networking (22%).


Limited access to new markets and funding are regarded as major impediments to new business growth, yet infrastructure, training and technology are not seen as barriers. This may be attributed to the sizes of their businesses; almost all respondents have small- to medium-sized enterprises with less than 20 employees (95%).


Of those surveyed, 44% have children, making it clear why support in the form of family and mentors is high on the list, and why work/life balance is widely viewed as the most common tension point, followed by financial instability.


Moving on to the motivations for entering entrepreneurship, respondents indicated that one of the main reasons for having a successful business is to make a social contribution to the community (42%). Others include following a passion (54%) and securing a future for themselves and their family (27%). 


Jayshree Naidoo, Standard Bank Incubator Head, says that South African female entrepreneurs see investing for a social return and creating social change as important as investing for a profitable return. Thus, they play a critical role in economic progress.


Our survey found that being a female entrepreneur takes courage: 82% of the respondents agreed that they are “fearless”, but this is because the fear of not succeeding is greater than that of not acting. However, though making a success in the business world requires a great deal of emotional control, the pay-off is worth it: 46% surveyed say the best thing about being an entrepreneur is the power to create their own future.


According to Ms Naidoo, the concern remains that while many women have great ideas and the necessary skills, breaking down barriers to infrastructure and improving access to markets is needed. This is why we stand committed to helping female entrepreneurs thrive in Africa, driving the continent’s growth and progress.


If you’re hoping to take your business to the next level, sign up for an invaluable opportunity to take part in one of the Standard Bank Incubator’s Business Development Programmes.

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Raksha Mahabeer
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Incredibly powerful insights here. Wonderful to see how many women are persevering in the entrepreneurial space despite clear challenges. Thank you to the #SBIncubator and the Lionesses of Africa for your continued commitment to entrepreneurial success on the continent. 

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 As a woman who for the past decade has been forced to live on the fringe of the upper class. Riding the bus between Four Ways and Standton  I have finally broken free and I am now finding success selling my craft on It was only after receiving a small micro loan through standard bank that I    Realized that my destiny was within my control.


With the help of the bank I was able to develop a small assembly and processing facility  where my products were designed and manufactured to be sold in America. I did countless hours of research and worked ceaselessly  on my advertising and marketing campaigns. I had to learn how to work with other manufacturers (IndiaMart abroad to help with various aspects of the production. 


When it came time to send the goods to America I was directed by Amazon to use what turned out to be an excellent resource (American eBox to prepare the product for mass distribution.  Once the product reached Amazon the sales initially started very slowly but after running and ambitious advertising campaign my listings saw tremendous activity and the sales have been magnificent. 


 I tell the story because I know there are many women out there who need a little motivation and a seed of courage to take the next step. I hope that my story might encourage the next entrepreneur to reach for their dreams.