As part of our digital youth supplement, Uncensored Voices, Activator Sebina Ramaseli looks at women in entrepreneurship and why it is difficult for them to thrive.
The small business sector contributes to job creation and economic growth. However, South Africa’s 2016 National Small Business Survey found that 76% of businesses under 5 years cited access to funding as their biggest obstacle to growth.
With all this said, being a woman in business is even harder. Female entrepreneurs face more obstacles than their male counterparts. Even though women bring unique qualities to entrepreneurship, it’s still difficult for them to thrive. Entrepreneurship is often glorified on social media. You see a business owner flaunting their success and you are immediately hooked and impressed. No one tells you about the sleepless nights. No one tells you about late payments from clients while you have to pay your employees. No one tells you about the sacrifices you have to make and the relationships you lose along the way.
On top of the many sacrifices you make and the efforts you put in, not many take you seriously as a young woman in business.
I remember when I first told people about my love for the building industry and how I have dreams of becoming a contractor “Why don’t you do female jobs?” “That’s a man’s world” were some of the responses I got. Your self-confidence gets tested on so many levels you end up doubting yourself. Next thing you come across people that want to exploit you. They offer you work in exchange for sexual favours…”bula dirope” policy (open thigh policy)
Many women give up on their dreams when it comes to business because of the many attacks on their values and capabilities.
Through it all you need to be confident in who you are and be yourself no matter what. To survive as a young woman in business, you need to be true to who you are and stand by your values. You need a lot of self-confidence, self-motivation and self-love to keep you going. Most importantly, surround yourself with like minded people, people that want to see you grow. I have fallen so many times in business, made a lot of mistakes by trusting the wrong people but I still stand because I strongly believe in myself. The support my family gives me and our local government in training has helped me a lot in boosting my confidence.
If women are given the opportunity to grow as fast in business as their male counterparts, women would invest most of their income into their families and communities. Putting more wealth in the hands of women could have a positive effect on the country’s economy. I strongly believe that “If you want to change the world, love and empower a woman!”