Women entrepreneurs pick up the baton to future success


Women across the world have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and in many cases have been disproportionately impacted. A staggering 87% of women business owners said that they had been adversely affected, according to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE).

If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed without any doubt, it’s the resilience and tenacity of women across the globe, from all walks of life and in every imaginable socio-economic setting.

Faced with the greatest pandemic in living memory, women were the ones that faced the challenges of caring for families under lockdown and overseeing home-schooling – all the while juggling the responsibility of their families, homes, jobs, careers and in many cases, as business owners making sure that they stay open for business.

Women play a key role

Now, more than ever, women need to mobilize to get through these trying times, to not lose sight of their goals and to get as much support as they can to continue to make inroads in business.

To this end, Absa, which has a strong history of supporting and empowering entrepreneurs and with their strong affiliation with Lionesses of Africa, has invited Melanie Hawken to be a key speaker at a virtual conference being held on the 25 and 26 August 2021 in association with the Franchise Association of South Africa. She will share the highlights of the recently released South African Women Entrepreneurs Job Creation Survey which provides insights into women entrepreneurs and their businesses giving Africa’s women entrepreneurs a voice in shaping their futures.

According to James Noble, Head of Wholesale, Retail and Franchise for Absa Business Banking, women have always played a key role in business especially in the retail and franchise environments and have proved to be formidable operators.

” Resetting and repositioning for the new normal as a result of COVID-19 is a challenge to all of us but especially to women, who, in many instances, have been side-lined as the economy tries to get back on track.” One of the areas in which women play a significant role and whose business system gives incredible support, is the franchise sector. ”

The Franchising for Africa conference will take a look at how franchising has fared, both globally and in South Africa, and what the future holds for the future growth of franchising in South Africa, and by extension, to the rest of Africa.”

Franchising offers a safety net

Franchising holds a special attraction for women in that it provides the necessary safety net that a normal or independent start-up business does not provide, and women are particularly good at working within a system.

Especially during this pandemic, women entrepreneurs are opting for franchise options where they can get the maximum support and where the risk of failure is minimised.

Many franchise brands in the services sector have redesigned their franchise offerings to include work-from-home and hybrid working options that will appeal to the new way of doing business that will become the norm after the pandemic.

Franchising in South Africa spans over 14 different business categories and while we see women franchisees in almost all sectors, many opt for franchises in the services sector, such as beauty salons, slimming salons, nail bars as well as franchises in the education, real estate and business-to-business areas.

There are also quite a number of women in the food franchise market, in the retail sector and in the automotive sector, with many co-partnering with their husbands or others in the ventures.

It is said that women are often better at managing businesses because they are more organised after all they also have experience in managing their families, and managing their businesses is an extension of that. They are good at people management, teamwork and negotiation.

They also like to be creative, and they like the idea of the support network, which makes franchising especially attractive.

Women have what it takes

Internationally women are taking the lead in starting up successful small businesses and South Africa is no exception.

Statistics in the United States, for example, indicate that women are starting businesses at twice the rate that men do and that women’s enterprises outstrip overall business performance in revenue and employment growth.

According to Pertunia Sibanyoni, Chairperson of the Franchise Association of South Africa, women who have bought into franchising are reaping the rewards.

“Many of these women run multiple franchises, others do so with their partners, couples make up a high proportion of franchisees and they tend to be very successful because the business becomes a family affair.” 

The softer skills that women have stand them in good stead in business as they are good at people management, teamwork, and negotiation.

They like to be creative, and they like the idea of support networks, which makes franchising especially attractive as it offers a certain peace of mind as, in franchising one is in business for oneself but not by oneself.

Franchising can be the low-risk, high-reward route to owning your own business.

It allows you to be your own boss, to build your business as far as your talent and ambition allows, and best of all, it allows you to reap the profits personally.

If you choose wisely, it also gives you the back-up of an established franchisor with a known brand and a proven business system, a roadmap to success that’s been travelled many times before by others.

While a high proportion of independent start-up companies quickly fall by the wayside, figures show that franchises have a significantly higher success rate.

FASA and Absa invite you to participate in the Franchising for Africa Virtual Conference on the 25 and 26 August 2021 to hear Lionesses of Africa’s CEO Melanie Hawken present her key research and to explore the exciting world of franchising.


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