Un­leash­ing eco­nomic po­ten­tial of SA’s women-owned busi­ness

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Nunu Nt­shingila Nunu Nt­shingila is a re­gional di­rec­tor of Face­book Africa.

WE KNOW that help­ing women to start and grow pros­per­ous com­pa­nies is a pow­er­ful way in trans­form­ing our so­ci­ety and creating equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for all.

As South Africa edges to­wards greater lev­els of gen­der eq­uity, we all stand to ben­e­fit from the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties this will un­doubt­edly cre­ate – we know that when women do bet­ter, economies do bet­ter.

In a new study con­ducted by De­vel­op­ment Eco­nomics on be­half of Face­book, it is es­ti­mated that busi­nesses set up by women in South Africa over the next five years (from now un­til 2022), hold the key to un­lock­ing more than R175 bil­lion a year for the econ­omy, while creating 972 000 jobs.

It is en­cour­ag­ing to see that Africa has among the high­est pro­por­tion of fe­male busi­ness lead­ers in the world – 27 per­cent in Africa, com­pared to 24 per­cent in the eu­ro­zone and 13 per­cent in de­vel­oped Asia Pa­cific na­tions.

If we look on Face­book, the num­ber of new women-owned small busi­ness pages in a coun­try like Nige­ria, in­creased 319 per­cent be­tween 2016 and 2017 – this in it­self holds ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for all women busi­ness own­ers, the pos­si­bil­i­ties of growth and job cre­ation.

With more than 44 per­cent of South African women (aged be­tween 18 to 64) say­ing they are fairly likely to set up a busi­ness of their own in the com­ing one to five years, the pas­sion, drive and de­sire among women to suc­ceed has never been more ev­i­dent.

Fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence is no doubt one of the many key mo­ti­va­tions, but we also know the other driver for women is the de­sire to want to work “on their own terms” (50 per­cent) and to work around fam­ily com­mit­ments (39 per­cent).

Bar­ri­ers

That said, we also can­not be com­pla­cent about the many struc­tural, psy­cho­log­i­cal and fi­nan­cial bar­ri­ers as­pir­ing and ex­ist­ing fe­male busi­ness own­ers in South Africa still face.

Lack of ac­cess to fi­nance, not sure how to get started, wor­ries about risk or fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity and low con­fi­dence are among those cited by women as the main bar­ri­ers to achiev­ing their busi­ness goals.

My per­sonal be­lief is that ev­ery day we have the op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence, to give peo­ple the power to build com­mu­ni­ties and bring the world closer to­gether. That’s why we’ve launched and con­tinue to in­vest in pro­grammes like #SheMean­sBusi­ness, which aims to sup­port, cel­e­brate and em­power women en­trepreneurs and women-owned busi­nesses.

We know that tech­nol­ogy is be­ing used to bring down bar­ri­ers – it cre­ates op­por­tu­nity, whether for SMBs such as Ntoz­inhle Ac­ces­sorise, a South-Africa based de­signer that sells beau­ti­ful hand­made jew­ellery and ac­ces­sories, and now sees 80 per­cent of her sales com­ing from Face­book and In­sta­gram.

Or whether it’s about creating com­mu­ni­ties which bring peo­ple to­gether to spark ideas or share com­mon pas­sions, we know that tech­nol­ogy can be used to un­leash eco­nomic po­ten­tial.

When women are suc­cess­ful in busi­ness it drives eco­nomic and so­cial growth.

They em­ploy more women; they act as great role models; they en­cour­age more di­ver­sity; they in­vest in their com­mu­ni­ties, ed­u­cate their chil­dren and pay back the ben­e­fits they re­ceive by help­ing oth­ers.

This is the best way in which a net­work could work.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Nunu Nt­shingila is say­ing that when women are suc­cess­ful in busi­ness it drives eco­nomic and so­cial growth.

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