An investigation into the determinants of women entrepreneurship
The important role that entrepreneurship plays to combat unemployment should not be underestimated, especially in countries with growing unemployment rates such as South Africa. Women entrepreneurs can contribute significantly to economic development in South Africa, but their contribution has not been adequately studied and developed. In the South African context, it is challenging for men and women to start a business, but women face unique challenges in starting and growing a business, such as obtaining credit, lack of experience and management skills and family constraints. The profile, difficulties and needs of women entrepreneurs in South Africa should be fully explored and understood before effective support systems can be implemented. Research on women-owned businesses in South Africa is limited and still requires a lot of exploration. The research for this study was conducted in Emfuleni, situated in the southern region of the Gauteng province. The poverty level in the area is high, although large industries are situated in this region. Despite the fact that Emfuleni has the highest unemployment rate in Gauteng, local stakeholders believe that the area has strong development potential. The objective of this study was to investigate women entrepreneurship in the Emfuleni district in South Africa and to make practical recommendations to enhance women entrepreneurship in Emfuleni and in South Africa. A survey that included 36 women-owned businesses was conducted. A detailed profile of the woman entrepreneur in Emfuleni was compiled from the empirical research. Furthermore, the structure of the women-owned businesses in Emfuleni was investigated, followed by the women entrepreneurs' path to business ownership, factors that motivate women into self-employment, views of the women entrepreneurs with regard to support offered by Emfuleni, obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs during business start-up and during business operation as well as the business needs of the women entrepreneurs. The most urgent needs of women entrepreneurs in Emfuleni are marketing and financial support and networking with other business owners. It is recommended that these needs are addressed through a support initiative especially implemented for women entrepreneurs. Another option is to utilise the organisations that are currently functioning in EmfuJeni for women entrepreneurs more efficiently to support women entrepreneurship.