Women entrepreneurs go it alone

Johannesburg - Women entrepreneurs are not benefiting from government policies aimed at helping them, according to a study released on Friday.

"The research showed that women don't believe that government policy supports their entrepreneurial efforts in any way," FNB said of its study on the state of female entrepreneurship in South Africa.

The majority of the respondents - almost 80% - used their own savings to start their businesses, rather than external funding.

"One of the discoveries is that women often start their business out of their savings and only approach the bank for financing options once they're ready to grow to the next level," said Kirsty Davis, FNB CEO for business banking.

"This leads to depletion of collateral or capital, which is the essential basis for most funding partnerships."

The research found about 4% of women get funding from government grants, while just over 20% had formal bank loans.

The research, conducted by the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Wits Business School, dispelled the myth that women were not natural entrepreneurs and they only started businesses because they absolutely had to, or to do good.

"If we look at the necessity motivation that we normally see in entrepreneurship research, we would expect a much higher proportion of women to say that they started a business because they could not find a job or because they had no other option, and that is not the case.

"Women are choosing to start businesses, even though they have other options."

Women were driven by motives like wanting to be their own bosses, wanting to develop a product idea, or wanting to gain recognition.

Another misconception was that women do not see themselves as entrepreneurs or have confidence in their ability to start businesses.

"What we see from the research is that most women who start businesses have more than three years' experience in a working environment.

"They are confident in their management skills and are comfortable in taking the risk associated with entrepreneurship."

The respondents said their business ventures were supported by their families, but not by their wider communities.

"Fifty percent of respondents stated that their friends don't value entrepreneurs and that people in their communities believe that being an employee is better than being an entrepreneur," FNB said.
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