In a country where 51% of the population is female, single women head up approximately 7.6 million households, and we are seeing that more women than men are buying property. It is therefore not surprising that women are ‘doing it for themselves’ when it comes to business.
“The evidence lies in the number of women running their own businesses,” says Naledzani Mosomane, Head of Enterprise Development at Standard Bank, speaking on the sidelines of the recent Standard Bank Basali Business Pitch competition – the culmination of a year-long development programme for women entrepreneurs.
Since 2021, she says that 202 women have passed through the Programme, delivered through the Bank’s enablement partner Giving Wings.
“Elaborating on recent research, it has shown that about 43% of South African households are run by single women. At the end of July 2022, women also accounted for 57% (3 896 595) of the total volume of properties in the market (6 868 778). This means that women spent about 54% (or R3 440 bn) of the total value (R6 414 bn) on residential properties registered at the deed’s office.”
Against this backdrop, it therefore makes sense that more women are taking advantage of business development programmes. These types of programmes are designed to bolster their business skills so that they can enter various sectors of the economy, and ultimately be in the best position possible to financially provide for their families and run their households.
“Instead of running businesses using, for example, their domestic skills as a base for business – which traditionally has been the case for many, these women can now be seen leading manufacturing businesses, running vital parts of the service industry, leading IT companies, branding and marketing agencies, building agri-processing businesses, running farms, and so much more.”
“As they have worked at building their businesses, women have created jobs, internships and passed on skills. Their contribution to South Africa’s growth is illustrated by a ‘Women Business Owner’ benchmark study released by the Women’s Report, supported by the University of Stellenbosch, which revealed that in 2021, 22% of all businesses in South Africa were owned by women,” says Mosomane.
Building onto the success of the programme and what it enables, the recent inaugural Basali Business Pitch competition was won by Sarah Motshwane, who received R75 000 and a grant to assist with purchasing machinery for her business. Her pitch showed that women could successfully compete for part of the R 20bn packaging business and contribute to reducing harmful impact on the environment. The business specialises in manufacturing bespoke, branded paper bags for customers who want to avoid plastic products.
“Women also bring special interpersonal skills, such as empathy, to one of the most demanding sectors of the services business – the funeral industry,” says Mosomane.
“This was clearly shown by Nikiwe Sigubi, founder of a company that specialises in the repatriation and movement of human remains – a sensitive business requiring tact, sympathy and understanding to support people during one of the most challenging times of their lives,” says Mosomane.
Overall, the depth of the skills shown by the women, through their business pitches, showed that the 202 graduates of the Basali Programme were resilient entrepreneurs worthy of being given opportunities to gain experience and build their businesses.
“All the women, including the ten candidates chosen to participate in the business pitch competition, have demonstrated that they have been able to overcome major challenges on the road to success.”
“They have established business during, or just after, the COVID-19 pandemic and have overcome harsh economic conditions, competition for market share, lack of capital and other issues to establish and grow focused, thriving businesses.”
“There is no doubt that these women, and many others like them, will be a significant part of South Africa’s business future,” concludes Mosomane.