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A comparative study between white and black women entrepreneurs in selected areas in South Africa
Rasego, Carol Mantwa
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Worldwide, entrepreneurship is seen as one of the most important solutions to unemployment, poverty and low economic growth. The creation of new ventures and the growth of existing businesses are vital contributing factors to any economy. Women outnumber male entrepreneurs, which have led to a renewed focus on gender entrepreneurship and the development of appropriate interventions for gender–specific groups across the globe. In South Africa, women make up just less than 50% of the entrepreneurial population. There is therefore, considerable scope to improve the number of women entrepreneurs in the economy and the level at which they operate. Literature review in this study highlighted that female business ownership is concentrated primarily in the service industries where businesses are relatively smaller in terms of employment and revenue, as opposed to the technology, construction and manufacturing sectors. Women entrepreneurs want to expand their businesses as much as male entrepreneurs but women have a hard time in obtaining external financing and credibility as business owners. The objective of the study was to explore white and black women entrepreneurs in the Carletonville and Soweto areas and to provide practical recommendations to ensure successful women entrepreneurship in the country. This study had a total of 58 black and white women entrepreneurs that were motivated by factors like the need for independence, confidence in the product/service offered, self– fulfillment and the need for a challenge into owning a business. A typical woman entrepreneur in this study is between the ages 40 to 59 years, is married with an average of one to two children. The woman entrepreneur is fairly educated with an education level of matric and a diploma. But her business is micro or very small with an annual turnover of R50 000 to R500 000. Participating women entrepreneurs are faced with obstacles such as inequality of access to credit, awareness and access to business support, risk averse, lack of focused women entrepreneurship policies from regional municipalities and government, lack of education and training in their business start–up phase. They are faced with obstacles such as awareness / access to business support, gaining acceptance and respect of people, liquidity and other financial problems and lack of timely business information in running their businesses. Women entrepreneurs in this study declared that they need support on factors such as business advice, information, counselling, mentoring, marketing support and women entrepreneurship specific based policies to enhance women entrepreneurship in the areas of Soweto and Carletonville. The study also conducted t–tests to compare white and black women entrepreneurs in the Carletonville and Soweto areas. The t–tests focused on motivational factors to self– employment, obstacles to business start–up and obstacles faced in current business operations. The t–test in this study revealed that black women entrepreneurs rated the following motivating factors: desire to wealth, the need for independence, need for flexible work schedule, need for a challenge, self–fulfillment, to develop my hobby, insufficient family income and ensure high job security more positively than the white women entrepreneurs. In addition, the t–tests also revealed that black women entrepreneurs are affected more than the white entrepreneurs by fear of failure and their perceived inequality of access to credit in their business start–up. Furthermore, black women entrepreneurs, in running their businesses are severely affected by family pressures in relation to gender roles and a lack of awareness of or access to business support more than the white women entrepreneurs. This study offered recommendations such as exposing women in entrepreneurship at a tender age, increasing access to finance and the establishment and enhancement of women entrepreneurs’ organisations like SAWEN, BWASA, and SAWIMA amongst others. The women entrepreneurs’ organisations should embark on campaigns and intensify their marketing strategies amongst others.