For Women, By Women

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2022

Prioritise women entrepreneurs to break the bias

Women are more likely than men to choose entrepreneurship, not because they have a burning passion or the right skills, but because of a lack of better opportunities.  This was confirmed by 46% female respondents in a recent survey conducted by 1st for Women Insurance which also found that 93% of the respondents have #girlboss or entrepreneur ambitions.


In the survey, almost half (48%) of respondents felt that they are not provided with the same opportunities as men in a nine to five job. When asked what they would do if they were an entrepreneur, 30% said social media influencer, content creator or business consultant, 27% have their sights set on the food industry and 20% want to open an online business. 23% listed the ‘other’ category with hopes to one day open a beauty salon, become a singer, offer coding lessons to kids and be a taxipreneur, for example.


These aspirations carry massive potential. In the US, the fastest-growing segment of start-up companies are women-owned businesses.  The reason?  To break free from social constraints, to achieve financial independence, to reduce the chance of being harassed or attacked and to have more control and influence over what happens in their lives.  In South Africa, the statistics are less encouraging, but improving. 


In South Africa, women comprise only 19,4% of business owners and yet, according to research by Development Economics, women-owned businesses established between 2018 and 2022 may generate R175 billion a year and create 972 000 jobs.


“The theme for International Women’s Day this year is Break the Bias and a way to do just that is to encourage, support and mentor female entrepreneurs so that challenges like gender inequality, opportunity inequality, bias, stereotypes, and discrimination are no longer an issue, says Seugnette van Wyngaard, Head of 1st for Women


Lauren Dallas, CEO of Future Females, a South African movement to inspire more female entrepreneurs, and better support their success, agrees. 


“One of the best pieces of advice I received was that ‘those who push their way to the top of the mountain are rarely the ones that stand on top’.  For anyone and everyone with the influence and capacity to support those coming up behind them - that is our responsibility.  We are not fighting for equality to then make it equally hard for those coming up after us - we are clearing the path for the next wave of female activists, entrepreneurs, changemakers, to summit,” says Dallas.


Future Females offers the following advice to women wanting to make a fearless fresh start:


  • Just start! It's impossible to feel confident in an idea - an idea can't make money, only a business can.  So don't wait until you feel 100% confident, because that day is unlikely to come - just accept that this is the beautiful ambiguity of entrepreneurship, and start taking action.
  • Entrepreneurship is a team sport - spend time finding your people!  Networking is one of the most important activities you can do for your business - when I first started Future Females, I had zero network in South Africa.  I spent hours each day reaching out to people on LinkedIn, and committed to having a coffee each day with someone I didn't know.
  • Solve a problem - people will pay in proportion to the amount of pain you can help them resolve - so whatever your idea or business is, know exactly how it will add value for people, and for who.  
  • Instead of a fear of failure, embrace a healthy fear of regret.  You have so much more to lose with not trying, than with putting yourself out there.  Start today, and just see what can happen in one week, one month, one year.


“Breaking the Bias is all about passionately speaking out.  It’s the perfect mantra for those wishing to call out inequality in a nine to five, or play a part in creating a more diverse and inclusive future.  For aspiring entrepreneurs, the best way to become your own boss is to start a side hustle and build your income while you still have the safety of your day job.  Again, just start!” concludes van Wyngaard.

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