Africa needs more women role mod­els

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Songezo Ndlen­dle

AFRICA needs more busi­ness­women role mod­els who can be cham­pi­ons in lift­ing up and in­spir­ing other women to break through the bar­ri­ers into en­trepreneur­ship as a ve­hi­cle to drive down the un­em­ploy­ment rate.

This is ac­cord­ing to Tamiko Cuel­lar, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Pur­sue Your Pur­pose LLC, a global firm that coaches high-per­form­ing, pur­pose-driven women ex­ec­u­tives, man­agers and lead­ers to suc­cess­fully tran­si­tion into en­trepreneur­ship.

“Fac­tu­ally speak­ing and just based on the com­ments and the feed­back that I heard di­rectly from the women, there are not enough women role mod­els. They were so grate­ful that some­one would come here to talk to them and in­spire them, so I feel like we do need to raise up more women lead­ers who can be cham­pi­ons in lift­ing up other women,” she said.

“I don’t be­lieve we have enough women role mod­els who are reach­ing out to other women, al­though maybe there are suc­cess­ful busi­ness­women but maybe the ef­fort to reach back into the com­mu­ni­ties is just not there like it should be.”

Cuel­lar has just com­pleted a tour for as­pir­ing and emerg­ing women en­trepreneurs in hon­our of Women’s month in South Africa. The tour was a se­ries of mas­ter­classes based on her third book, Own Your Bril­liance! A Woman’s Guide to Hir­ing Her­self.

She said her main fo­cus was help­ing as­pir­ing and emerg­ing women en­trepreneurs and those who want to tran­si­tion into en­trepreneur­ship to give them strate­gies and tools, as well as in­spi­ra­tion and mo­ti­va­tion, and to ac­ti­vate them into en­trepreneur­ship.

“So I ar­ranged a four-city tour, be­gin­ning in Jo­han­nes­burg and then go­ing to Wind­hoek, Namibia, com­ing back to South Africa in East Lon­don and then end­ing here in Cape Town.”

Cuel­lar said she had found that it was nec­es­sary to write a guide for women who were want­ing to make the tran­si­tion into en­trepreneur­ship and those who were al­ready in en­trepreneur­ship but still seek­ing guid­ance.

She said she had de­cided to do the tour in Namibia and South Africa be­cause of the high un­em­ploy­ment rate in both coun­tries.

“In South Africa, depend­ing on the re­port you read, it’s about 27 to 28 per­cent. In Namibia it’s even higher, it’s 33 per­cent, and in some re­ports 37 per­cent. So I found when the jobs are not there, that would mean we have to cre­ate them and we have to use en­trepreneur­ship as the ve­hi­cle to drive down the un­em­ploy­ment rate,” Cuel­lar said.

South Africa and Namibia have no short­age of tal­ent but only a short­age of op­por­tu­ni­ties, she added.

“So I was here to sort of stim­u­late women be­cause it is na­tional women’s month in both coun­tries and so it is a fit­ting time to em­power women to go af­ter their dreams and to take their tal­ents and mon­e­tise them into a busi­ness.”

Cuel­lar said that through­out the tour she had found that women had lots of tal­ent but lacked con­fi­dence.

“I think an­other thing to break the bar­rier of the lack of con­fi­dence is for them to get around other peo­ple who are do­ing what they are do­ing, thereby hav­ing a sup­port sys­tem. Be­cause if they were told this en­tre­pre­neur thing was not for them, that would crush their spir­its and their dreams,” said Cuel­lar.

Ac­cord­ing to Cuel­lar, the challenge crip­pling Africa is teach­ing en­trepreneur­ship at a ba­sic level, which leads to ru­ral and town­ship en­trepreneurs be­ing ex­cluded from the for­mal econ­omy where op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist. Women need to un­der­stand that a lack of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion does not nec­es­sar­ily mean they are not able to break into en­trepreneur­ship.

“Some­times the con­fi­dence level is lower be­cause they feel they don’t have a de­gree,” she said, adding that she had three busi­ness de­grees but not one of them taught her how to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur.

There are some other things that are also bar­ri­ers, es­pe­cially with re­gards to tech­nol­ogy, with in­ter­net speeds, con­nec­tions and data plans and costs.

“Wi-fi and in­ter­net ac­cess is ex­pen­sive here (South Africa) com­pared to the West. The per­cent­age of what peo­ple have to spend on their av­er­age salary, some say it’s as high as 20 per­cent of their salary to get like an un­lim­ited data plan,” she said, adding that the gov­ern­ment needed to know that if it wanted to fa­cil­i­tate busi­ness growth it would need to fig­ure out a way to make in­ter­net ac­cess more af­ford­able. – African News Agency (ANA)

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