The number of women entrepreneurs has been worryingly declining in the last decade and experts point to issues such as inequality for the trend.
Commission for Gender Equality spokesperson Javu Baloyi insisted there had to be a policies in place favourable to businesses owned by women.
Statistics from the World Bank revealed that the number of women-owned businesses had declined by 10% in almost a decade.
In 2008 women who owned businesses were at 48% of the total number of businesses globally, and in 2017 that number declined to 38%.
Speaking to Vutivi News, Baloyi revealed that over the past few years the commission had been focusing on issues pertaining to women economic empowerment and their business enterprises as well as pushing for government support.
“It has become common knowledge over the years that small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) are extremely vulnerable to collapse within the first two years of their establishment. The vulnerability is amplified significantly when these SMMEs are owned by women,” he said.Baloyi said the commission believed the vulnerability of women in this sector was part of a bigger economic context where they were vulnerable to poverty, unemployment and lack of economic resources.
To add to that, they had inadequate financial support systems and had limited access to loan or credit facilities from both the government and private sector.
But Janine Basel from Akro, a business consultancy firm, said there is more to women not being in business.
“I believe that women are in entrepreneurship but are happy with ‘hand to mouth’ hustles, or a lifestyle business that goes under the radar,” she said.
Basel believes some women don’t venture into the business world because they view it as a forced activity due to lack of jobs.
They therefore don’t view it as entrepreneurship. Others fear venturing into the business space because they would not know how to grow their businesses.
Basel said women who were determined and eventually stepped into the sector faced various challenges.
“Literally needing hand-hold guidance step-by-step, fearing the outcome of moving out of their knowledge base, and the fear of failure and consequences to their lives down the line financially are some of the challenges women face,” she said.
Patricia Lichaba, who has been running fast food business Kasi Flava for the past 10 years in Meadowlands, Soweto, strongly believes it’s the government’s responsibility to empower small businesses.
She told Vutivi News that she was inspired to open the establishment due to the demand for good food.
Her restaurant serves sandwiches, foot-long subs, dagwoods and steak meals, among others.
Lichaba said running a business as a woman came with its challenges.
“The government is doing absolutely nothing to help us women in business. There are no structures and no programmes put in place for us, and we have to work twice as hard as men for an equal chance,” she said.
She said that she had learned difficult lessons as a black businesswoman.
“I learned that nothing comes free in this country, so you shouldn’t have any expectations, but to find a way to make your business work,” she said.