Exploring women entrepreneurship in the construction industry
Buthelezi, Thembinkosi Thulani Blessing
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Over the past few years there has been an explosion of appetite for entrepreneurship, more particularly from women. Given the numerous barriers faced especially by women entrepreneurs today, there is a pressing need to initiate empowerment programmes to enable them to succeed in their endeavours. There is a need to empower women economically and to create employment opportunities and income generating activities to enable them to survive, prosper and provide support for their families. For the development of women–to–women business potential, women entrepreneurs require support in the form of training in strategic business development, access to credit funds, assistance with marketing skills and product design and development. Starting a firm of one's own may be one way for women to avoid the 'glass ceiling' that has sometimes been argued to exist in established organisations, providing one attractive way for entrepreneurial women to realise their full potential. Small business owners have more freedom to plan their personal schedules and to jungle them to suit their work and family demands which is often an important consideration for women. Entrepreneurs must be flexible and creative to meet the challenges which come along with running their businesses. The importance of a strong, entrepreneurial vision that can lead towards a successful enterprise is often underestimated. Women are disadvantaged by their lower levels of financial literacy and awareness. Access barriers are significant. Opportunities for financial services companies who can provide affordable, appropriate and accessible products to meet the needs of self–employed women are thus limited. Women entrepreneurs are still to overcome key challenges like access to training in international trade issues, operations management and marketing, as well as access to good mentors and mentorship programs. The study concludes that women confront barriers because of their gender and the author or investigator cites previous research that argues that these barriers are a result of socialisation practices, educational experiences, family roles, and networking. Government and all other relevant stakeholders should promote public awareness and ensure that resources for programs to foster entrepreneurship are decentralised. Women entrepreneurs should examine the role that the education system could play in developing entrepreneurial skills and attitudes. In Ekurhuleni region there is an increasing number of women who are required to steer their own businesses, and many are struggling to achieve success. This paper explores women entrepreneurship in the construction and engineering sectors. According to the responses obtained from the study, there are specific skills that entrepreneurs must posses in order to operate and succeed in construction and engineering industries within the Ekurhuleni region and these are communication skills, administration skills, financial skills and interpersonal skills.