London – Female entrepreneurs in Africa's tourism industry must beware of impostor syndrome, warns Sarah Clayton Turner, chair of the Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE).
So-called impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern where an individual doubts their accomplishments, persistently fearing that they'll be exposed as a fraud, or not deserving their position.
"We must look at how women can overcome this barrier, which they probably put up themselves," she said during a panel discussion at World Market London, on empowering women entrepreneurs through tourism.
Many women active in Africa's tourism industry find it difficult to get access to the market due to the costs involved, and the fact that the industry on the continent is still very much male dominated, said Mary Ragui, a board member of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO).
According to Michelle Kristy of the She Trade initiative, it is important to train women entrepreneurs in the African tourism industry how to develop a strategy to reach the market - and buyers, in turn, on proper financial management.
Turning the pay gap around
Another challenge for women entrepreneurs in African tourism is the gender pay gap that persists, added Ragui.
Libby Owen-Edmunds, a tourism consultant, said men are still getting the higher paid and more stable jobs in the tourism industry in Africa in general.
"Tourism has the highest multiplier effect, so it can be used to empower women entrepreneurs in Africa. We must ensure they know what is expected from people consuming their goods so they can package what is required," said Ragui.
To her, one of the biggest goals of empowering women entrepreneurs in Africa’s tourism industry is to liberate women economically, and enable them to put food on the table for themselves and their children.
For Kristy, it is all about building partnerships and capacity among women entrepreneurs. She has found that the use of webinars for training is very useful in this regard.
Owen-Edmunds added that she was surprised at how many women run businesses in the tourism industry in Africa did not yet have a presence online.
"My tip for African women entrepreneurs in the tourism industry is not to ignore the importance of social media to expand their network and ‘be seen’," she said.
* Fin24 is a guest of SA Tourism at WTM London.