Entrepreneurship: a rather long and difficult word to pronounce, and it seems an even scarier concept to many South African women. Laisha Moodley reminds us of the importance of entrepreneurship, both as a tool for women’s empowerment, and to the lifeblood of our nation – the economy.

After reading (and thoroughly enjoying) an article by Stephen Timm in the August edition of Entrepreneur magazine, “Women Entrepreneurs still lag behind”, I had to face the glaring fact that South African women do indeed “lag behind as entrepreneurs”. According to the reported statistics in the article, only 40 per cent of South African entrepreneurs are female. This is disappointing, as Timms goes on to make the crucial point that women make up more than half our population. Now there are various reasons for this state of affairs, but that doesn’t help us much, since every situation and budding entrepreneur is unique. So where does that leave us? To be quite honest, in a very bad space both economically and socially.

Firstly, entrepreneurship is the heart of economic growth, by default creating employment for one, two or a hundred people – every bit helps. Secondly, entrepreneurship is key to women’s empowerment – through it women across different social and economic sectors are given the opportunity to hold their own as business people, contributing directly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Yes, as a young democracy we have a long way to go to fully embrace gender and race equality in the business world, but even Government is doing its bit to help women develop as entrepreneurs. A plethora of SMME programmes and services are initiated by Government institutions like The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) which are geared to assist budding entrepreneurs achieve their goals and inevitably strengthen our emerging economy.

Added to this there is a variety of women’s organisations which focus on developing female entrepreneurs, such as the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) and the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network (SAWEN). Associations such as these bring together the best female minds in South Africa to mentor and build the future female leaders of our country. If we ever hope to bridge the divide between the genders in the national and global economies, we need to make conscious decisions to think beyond the now and realise that the legacies, however small, that we build today will impact on the next generation of female pioneers.

I’m not saying that every woman is an entrepreneur, although everyone likes to believe they have the next big idea. Being an entrepreneur takes more that the wish for overnight success and a flashy new car with a platinum business card. Entrepreneurship is something bigger – it stems from the idea of providing a “unique” product or service for profit at the risk of losing it all, because ultimately no business has a guarantee of success. So look within yourself, and if you are still reading at this point, ask yourself whether you have what it takes to make your mark, the world over.

South Africa is a breeding ground for entrepreneurship – that’s an undeniable fact. There will always be challenges such as overcoming government red tape, raising capital, securing the necessary resources, legal implications and naysayers encouraging you to “stick to what you know”. Yet in the end you have the opportunity to rise up and take your place as a phenomenal woman: visualise it, and your entrepreneurial nature will manifest into reality.

About the author: Laisha currently works in the social development space as a Marketing Manager. Her career covers public relations, communications and publishing. She has published various articles in a leading Media 24 magazine. She has a strong desire to help address the many social issues within South Africa.

This article, SA Women – Embracing Their True Entrepreneurial Spirit, was published on Women Inc, the complete resource for the working woman. Women Inc offers articles on entrepreneurship, management, personal effectiveness and issues beyond the workplace (www.womeninc.co.za).

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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