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Strengthening The Investment Landscape For Female Entrepreneurs: A Call to Action

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Mahlatse Tolamo | August 24, 2022

South Africa is part of Africa’s leading countries with 54.9% female entrepreneurs and is one of the countries that support female owned businesses. This data is highlighted in the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2022 which focuses on the progress and achievement of women owned businesses around the world. Furthermore, according to data from Partech, the share of investments that went to female entrepreneurs was 16,0% of the total $5.2billion raised on the continent in 2021 by startups.

Despite the successful growth indicated in these recent reports, South African female entrepreneurs continue to struggle with access to capital and assets as compared to male-led businesses. As a result, 22 On Sloane hosted a women’s month celebration in partnership with African Odyssey produced by Carol Bouwer and this event was under the theme ‘The Investment Landscape for Female Entrepreneurs in South Africa’.


This event served as a catalyst for knowledge sharing and collaboration between the private and public sector stakeholders in ensuring that they create policies that speak to female entrepreneurship and funding programmes that are easily accessible. We had three panel discussions aimed at:


+ Equipping Tomorrow’s Female Leaders with Knowledge

+ Connecting Tomorrow’s Female Leaders through Creating a Conducive Environment for Female Investors

+ Empowering Tomorrow’s Female Leaders through Capitalising on one another’s Strengths.

Prior to this event, we hosted an investors mixer which sought to bring together the startups and investors based in Johannesburg. This was encouraged by the identified funding gap towards early-stage investments towards South African startups. From the participation, it was evident that there were more male investors than their female counterparts which was a slight indication of how the investment landscape is in the country, and this may be considered skewed. Furthermore, data from the South African Startup Ecosystem Report 2022 indicated that 14.3% of South African tech startups have at least one female founder and more than 85.0% of ventures are solely male founded.


Unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs requires concerted actions from the public and the private sectors. Only by partnerships can we put all our resources to productive use and achieve scalable and sustainable impact for women entrepreneurs to access funding. The public and private sector can promote gender lens funding through creating dedicated funds and financial instruments to support women entrepreneurs. Furthermore, gender disaggregated data can inform banks and financial institutions on best practices in designing products, programmes and strategies to meet the specific needs of female owned businesses. This data can assist in providing crucial guidance on actions which meet the real needs of women-owned businesses.


As ecosystem enablers in the entrepreneurship space, our role is to facilitate the growth of innovation through hosting various activities. We aim at addressing the issue of access to funding for female entrepreneurs during a Policy Hackathon that will take place during the Global Entrepreneurship Week from the 14th – 20th of November 2022 at the 22 On Sloane startup campus. The Policy Hackathon concept is focused on real policy challenges, actual implementation and impact. The results produced from this hackathon will be tested in an identified area to ensure impact is achieved. The Policy Hackathon allows entrepreneur-support organisations to create a forum for dialogue between startups, policymakers, investors and regulators.


Both these events highlighted the need to get more women involved in the country’s startup landscape and because the private sector brings 70.0% of the GDP, it is imperative that the public and private sectors co-create and collaborate to create a conducive environment for female entrepreneurs to thrive and to ensure that they receive the much-needed support.


Mahlatse Tolamo, Ecosystem Enabler at 22 On Sloane


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