CityPress - - Business - XOLANI MBANJWA busi­ness@city­press.co.za

nless gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor im­ple­ment dras­tic mea­sures to en­sure that fe­male en­trepreneurs are men­tored about ac­cess fi­nance for their busi­nesses, women in South Africa will con­tinue to face mas­sive bar­ri­ers in the coun­try’s econ­omy. This is ac­cord­ing to Farzanah Mall, pres­i­dent of the Busi­ness­women’s As­so­ci­a­tion of SA (BWA), com­ment­ing on the pres­i­dency’s re­lease by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of The Sta­tus of Women in the SA Econ­omy re­port last Sun­day.

Au­thored by the depart­ment of women, the re­port found that a lack of fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy was among the main bar­ri­ers of ac­cess to fi­nance for women in busi­ness or those who had start-ups.

The depart­ment has called for the pri­vate and public sec­tors to im­prove fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion for women to em­power them to use fi­nan­cial prod­ucts to their ben­e­fit.

Its re­port states: “Women score sig­nif­i­cantly lower rel­a­tive to men in ar­eas of fi­nan­cial con­trol, fi­nan­cial plan­ning, choos­ing fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and gen­eral knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of fi­nance. This lack of fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy can keep women from be­ing able to know what fi­nan­cial prod­ucts are avail­able to them and how to utilise [them] to im­prove their eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion.”

De­spite pos­i­tive poli­cies that had helped women in other ar­eas of the econ­omy, the re­port found that many bar­ri­ers in ac­cess­ing fi­nance and credit for women still ex­isted.

Mall said the BWA’s 2015 Women in Lead­er­ship Cen­sus, which was re­leased last month, also showed that dras­tic mea­sures were needed to men­tor women to be fi­nan­cially savvy.

“Part of the dras­tic mea­sures we’re talk­ing about are that we need to be­come in­vest­ment part­ners with women be­cause ac­cess to cash alone doesn’t guar­an­tee suc­cess. You can give them R10 000 to start up the fund­ing, but you don’t equip them with busi­ness knowl­edge in terms of what it takes to make a busi­ness suc­cess­ful,” she said.

Gov­ern­ment also found that lower in­comes com­pared with men and the neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions had about women were among the bar­ri­ers to ac­cess to fi­nance and credit.

The pres­i­dency has called for more “gen­der­fo­cused” black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment (BEE) and busi­ness strate­gies for women, as they are the largest group of en­trepreneurs in the coun­try.

“Gen­der-fo­cused busi­ness strate­gies must in­form all BEE and fi­nan­cial-ac­cess mea­sures.

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