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Female entrepreneurs in South Africa continue to be at the margins of the mainstream economy, with only less than 20 percent female-owned businesses receiving the requisite support to succeed.
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) yesterday expressed concern over the lack of financial support for female entrepreneurs and female-owned businesses.
A recent study by the CGE found that female empowerment programmes were characterised by varying degrees of poor administration and mismanagement.
CGE deputy commissioner Dr Nthabiseng Moleko yesterday said that this left scores of female entrepreneurs out of opportunities.
“Women are put at the bottom of the spectrum when we look at huge business mergers and multimillion-rand acquisition deals and that is where we need to focus,” Moleko said.
“Most of our retail space is dominated by large scale private businesses and that has enabled difficulties in access to market for SMMEs.”
Entrepreneur Cassandra Makhubele said it was very difficult for women in business to lay their hands on a small loan of R1 million because of the red tape they experienced when approaching funding institutions.
“We produce our own packaged food and take it to large retailers as a group of women in agriculture, but we are lacking finance to strengthen our technology,” Makhubele said.
“We are in the periphery because our sector is regarded as an informal economy.”
The commission yesterday hosted a webinar to discuss challenges experienced by female-owned businesses in accessing financial support from funding institutions.
Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Nombulelo Gina said her department has established a female empowerment fund to support female-owned and led projects through the National Empowerment Fund.
“We are looking at ways to strengthen the after-care for female beneficiaries who are recipients of our funding, we will couple that with master plans to ensure an inclusive economy,” Gina said.
“We are going to make sure that the support packages made available by the government to assist businesses destroyed by the riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, reach female entrepreneurs.”
There were also concerns that Covid-19 financial challenges had driven a lot of female entrepreneurs to be listed on credit bureaus, thus being left unable to access loans with banks.
Border-Kei Chamber of Business chief executive Lizelle Maurice advised female entrepreneurs to be upskilled and be operationally involved in their businesses.
“Lack of education is a challenge to many entrepreneurs, many of whom delegate their financial statements to accountants and cannot read their own financial documents,” she said.
“Finance institutions want collateral as part of their loan-granting conditions and that is a barrier because many female entrepreneurs do not own land. That is compounded by lack of information, and lack of digital access.”
The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs earlier this year showed that female entrepreneurs still faced several structural and social obstacles, many of which had been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
MasterCard South Africa country manager Suzanne Morel said women had to be at the centre of the economy by aim and design, especially in developmental programmes.
“Looking at South Africa, we have seen some great progress,” she said.
“However, Covid-19 has affected a lot of businesses owned by women, and this is because there is an over-representation of women in sectors that are vulnerable.”
Originally Appeared Here