Fostering Female Entrepreneurship


Entrepreneurs are key to a nation’s economic development

‘The Hidden Factors: SA Women in Business’

The research report offers insight into the motivations and aspirations of South African women in the business world


Fostering Female Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are key to a nation’s economic development. They are the innovators, the risk takers, the creators of new businesses and most importantly for South Africa—the stimulators of both economic activity, skills development and new jobs.

Ultimately, they help to broaden and create a more inclusive economy.

The South African government has long recognised the vital contribution entrepreneurs play in the economic development and social upliftment of its people. In Government’s ten-year vision for the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA), South Africa is set to become an entrepreneurial nation that rewards and recognises those who see a business opportunity and pursue it.

At a national level, South Africa is estimated to have approximately two million small businesses, representing 96% of the total number of companies registered in the country. Small businesses employ about 55% of the country’s labour force and contribute approximately 42% to the country’s wage bill.

However, 87% of these small businesses are survivalists—a great concern for the country and its entrepreneurs.

In addition, Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) is at 6,9% (down 0,9% since 2008) and is considerably lower compared to other emerging economies like India, Brazil and Mexico.

While much research has been done on micro-enterprises, there is little available on sustainable formal ventures run by women in South Africa.

The Sage Foundation decided it was time to change this, by finding out more.

About the research

To understand the elements that need to be fostered and those that need to be overcome, the Sage Foundation commissioned Livingfacts to conduct research on how to foster female entrepreneurship in South Africa.

This study was carried out among females aged 25-65, who are formally employed in major metropolitan areas of South Africa, with a monthly income over R5,000.

604 quantitative interviews were conducted with women who were both successful and unsuccessful in their entrepreneurial businesses, as well as those who had not considered entrepreneurship.

In addition, a further 60 in-depth interviews were done with unsuccessful and potential entrepreneurs to understand their challenges in more detail.

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