Statistics released by the MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs revealed that just 18,8% of small business owners in South Africa are women. All entrepreneurs face obstacles and barriers when starting out, for women however there are some additional barriers. Many of these barriers are external barriers, like access to funding. Some barriers however are self-inflicted. Female entrepreneurs often downplay their own success. Even when they are doing remarkably well, they believe that they can do better, or that they are not quite good enough. They tend to be far more self-critical in nature.
Society expects women to do it all
Female entrepreneurs have to balance their time far more effectively. Even though times have changed dramatically, it is often still believed that the women’s place is in the kitchen. They have to be the primary care-giver, house manager as well as be successful. Statistically speaking there have been far more male startups then female startups. What’s the reason for this?
Men go to work, women stay at home. Entrepreneurship is a male-dominated environment. Earning respect in a male-dominated environment is a real struggle for women.
Men put the “men” in mentor. Not only are there fewer female entrepreneurs, but there seems to be a lack of female mentors. Female entrepreneurs report lack of suitable support from mentors and advisors. Collaborating with other women, being part of networks and communicating more with others is vital to helping women gain the confidence to start their own businesses.
Women start their entrepreneurial journey later in life, often between the ages of 35 and 44. This could be because most women choose to stay home and raise their families in their 20’s and 30’s. They would therefore have little time to commit to their business.
So are women capable entrepreneurs?
Forbes classified 2018 as the year for female entrepreneurs. As feminism becomes a far more prevalent movement, we are noticing more and more female entrepreneurs. Women now seem to have found a seamless way of balancing work and their personal lives. Women have always been remarkable jugglers. Many women have climbed the corporate ladder and been amazing mothers. Women are now deciding to choose the flexibility of owning their own business and being a stay-at-home mom.
Research has found that as entrepreneurs, women are more efficient and productive in considerably less time. Women often need less startup capital or funding to start and grow their business. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the typical male entrepreneur requires R250,000 in startup capital, while female entrepreneurs require R140,000.
Social Entrepreneur Butterflies
Women often launch businesses to gain a better balance in their work and family life, wealth is not the primary focus or driver. It is for this reason that women are more likely to venture into Social Entrepreneurship.
Female entrepreneurs often follow this path to serve the greater good. They are more likely to start businesses that benefit the community. Women want to make a difference and be beneficial to others. This likely stems from their nurturing persona
Farhana Parker says that helping women start their own businesses or social enterprise contributes to their economic empowerment. It will also increase their sense of self-worth and confidence.
The only way that we can ensure the longevity of businesses founded by female entrepreneurs is to remove the stigma that women can only be exceptional mothers. As soon as we notice the value that women are able to bring to table, we will reap the benefits. Women should aim to build each other up and not tear each other down.