Mahlatse Tolamo | March 15, 2021
This year’s International Women’s month theme is Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a covid-19 world and alongside this, is a social media campaign aimed at encouraging women to #ChooseToChallenge and call out gender bias and equality. As a society, we can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and equality or we can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. We as 22 ON SLOANE chose to celebrate African women in the entrepreneurship space who are working towards empowering other female entrepreneurs.
Women entrepreneurship has been recognised as a strong driver of economic growth and development. Africa has the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs and according to the World Bank Group report 2020, women make up of 58% of the continents self-employment population. Despite this, female led businesses tend to be smaller and their owners often struggle to secure technical support and investment.
Research conducted by the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment sector, which is part of the Economic Commission for Africa showed that the decision for African women to start a business instead of seeking wage work is influenced by important constraints such as capital, networks, time and family formation, occupational opportunities, and safety. Self-employment is seen as a refuge to millions of women in developing countries. Furthermore, the research shows that women are likely to operate in the informal economy and they are less likely to adopt advanced business practices because of inadequate skills and less access to capital for investing into their businesses. Having capital alone is not enough to transform a company’s productive capacity, but an entrepreneur must have sufficient skills and education necessary to identify opportunities and take informed risks.
Given this information, one can see the importance of training female entrepreneurs to help them improve business practices and improve profits. The World Bank Report 2020 stated that Training programmes addressing socio-emotional, and gender specific content as opposed to standard managerial training programmes have proven effective in numerous contests in Africa and pay for themselves in increased profits over the long term.
There are women who have made it a mission to empower female entrepreneurs who did not have the opportunity to access the necessary skills and education to run their businesses and, in this article, we celebrate them!
Nokwazi Mzobe is the founder of Akwande Ukukhanya project, an Early Childhood Development (Creche) Owner Empowerment Programme. This is a non-fee women’s empowerment business skills training which is targeted at township women who run Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs). This project aims to improve the sustainability of women-led businesses in South African townships and to improve the quality of early childhood education in poorer communities.
Thembiso Maganja is the founder of social coding which is a Non-Profit Company that provides digital training, scholarships, mentorships, and empowerment to young adults in low-income communities to help them leverage technology for a better future. Their goal is making sure that they make technology accessible to a million rural households by 2025. Through their Tech-based digital training and career programs, they help their participants use their Corporate Social Responsibility to empower Smart and Sustainable solutions created and driven by Rural Talent.
Elisja and Nelisa are both the founders of Coding Mamas which is aimed at addressing the skills gap in South Africa, particularly focusing on women. Their vision is to have a society where all women can actively participate in the 4th industrial revolution, be financially free and still have time to raise their kids. Coding Mamas have outreach programmes which are aimed at connecting moms in rural and peri-urban areas to much needed skills.
Michelle Obama once said that When women are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous, and this is evident with entrepreneurship in Africa because it offers a pathway to a to sustainable development across the African continent.
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22 On Sloane is the largest startup campus in Africa. The campus offers disruptive startups and innovative SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets. Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset, ensure their sustainability, and explore development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.
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