When it comes to living our best lives, it is obvious that we need a stable economy that provides work and economic opportunity for all South Africans. In order to add value, the needs which are to be served have to be clearly identified, otherwise one ends up with little more than distractions and platitudes. The ideals of a thriving economy aren’t possible without the successful participation of the majority of South Africans. More than half of South Africa’s population is female, yet only 31% of entrepreneurs are female. Even more problematic is that of those who stay in business, most never grow beyond solopreneur businesses. In line with findings in South Africa, only 6.3% of women-led SMEs have more than 10 employees, and only 18% of women-led businesses are older than 10 years. If that isn’t sufficiently compelling, consider the fact that over the next decade woman will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the US and will become the beneficiary of the largest transfer of wealth in US history. What would it mean for our economy if we could find ways to release the potential of female entrepreneurs? From my experience as a Business Coach working with a large variety of businesses across many different sectors, I think the following would be a good start:
- Women must not place themselves in a position where they are left holding the baby. They need to ensure that they make every use of the education opportunities available to them.
- Men need to step up to their share of the domestic responsibilities and woman need to stop settling for anything less.
- Women need to build stronger business networks and men need to include them in their Old Boys Clubs – perish the thought!
- Women need to stop playing small and realise that food kitchens and jumble sales are not the only way to make a difference.
- Women need to overcome their lack of assertiveness and build their knowledge and confidence to succeed in business.
- Capital and assets need to be made available and disproportional inheritance to male offspring should simply be illegal, as contra bones mores.
- Women need to take a few more risks and men need to become better at supporting women (Hint: Find out what support they need, before you don your “Mr Fixit hat”!).
- Employers need to pay women the same pay as their male counterparts and woman need to learn to negotiate.
We do not need a Woman’s Day. We need men and women to step up and do the unordinary so that our daughters and granddaughters will be paid market-related salaries; will be supported in their households by an equitable sharing of chores and responsibilities; will unlock their full economic potential and become part of the solution that is so desperately needed in our beautiful country!