An assessment of the determinants of women entrepreneurship in selected areas in South Africa
Malaza, David Thokozani
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Women entrepreneurship is increasing rapidly, women are starting their own business to take control over their personal and professional lives and the role that these women entrepreneurs play to eradicate poverty and unemployment in South Africa cannot be under estimated. Hence there is a need for extensive research on the contribution and development of women entrepreneurs at all levels of the South African economy. In terms of the adult population in South Africa, women outnumber males, while a relatively low percentage of women actively take part in economic activities and own businesses. Women make up less than 50% of the entrepreneurial population in South Africa. This has led to a renewed focus on gender entrepreneurship and the development of appropriate interventions for gender–specific groups across South Africa. Women face unique challenges in starting and growing a business and women frequently face gender bias in the socio–economic environment in which they operate. They face additional or at least different social, cultural, educational and technological challenges than men when it comes to establishing and developing their own businesses. These unique challenges and barriers should be fully explored and understood before effective support systems can be implemented. This study presents the research that was conducted in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district municipality, situated on the southern part of the North–West province, bordering the Free State province in the south and Gauteng province to the west. This district is relatively prosperous with a lot of potential for growth. The primary objective of this study was to assess women entrepreneurship in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Southern) District and to make practical recommendations to mitigate the barriers to and to enhance women entrepreneurship development in this region and in general. A survey that included 38 women entrepreneurs was conducted and a profile of a typical woman entrepreneur in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district municipality was compiled with the aid of the empirical research. The majority of the women entrepreneurs in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district municipality that participated in this study are between 30 to 59 years of age, she can be single or married with an average of two children, mainly older than eighteen years. This woman entrepreneur is fairly educated with an education level of not lower than matric. This study included the investigation of the current existing structure of the womenowned business, women entrepreneur's path to ownership, factors motivating women entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurial development support in the district, barriers to women entrepreneurship at start–up and during operation, as well as the business needs of women entrepreneurs in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district. The compatibility with family duties, insufficient family income and entering the family business are the main motivators for these women entrepreneurs to be self–employed. The lack of education and training, the lack of timely business information, family pressures, isolation from business network, lack of focused women entrepreneurship policies from regional municipalities or government, the cultural environment, lack of female role models, high risk aversion and a lack of awareness or access to business support are considered as huge obstacles faced by these women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district highlighted that they can mostly benefit from skills training, financial support, growth support, marketing support, business advice, information, counseling, mentoring, tools, equipment, machinery, networking with other business owners and women entrepreneurship specific based policies for the area. It is thus recommended that these needs are addressed through the establishment of structures at the municipality level to formulate and implement policies that will address women entrepreneurial issues by focusing on the suggested services such as promotion, strategy and support.