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A core pillar of the Female Foundry initiative is to provide entrepreneurs with access to mentors. Picture: SUPPLIED/DENTSU AEGIS
A core pillar of the Female Foundry initiative is to provide entrepreneurs with access to mentors. Picture: SUPPLIED/DENTSU AEGIS

Female Foundry is an initiative centred on mentoring women in business that embody innovation, diversity, social sustainability and tech leadership. iProspect’s proprietary research, Hear Her Voice, the catalyst for the programme’s inception, sheds light on the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

The Hear Her Voice project in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the newest venture of the global Female Foundry programme, which was first launched by iProspect in the Asia Pacific Region in 2015. In each region, the programme provides access to tools, training, connections, and resources, empowering female entrepreneurs to thrive in today’s complex digital economy. 

Dentsu Aegis Network is committed to driving the Female Foundry initiative as part of its social impact commitment to promoting female empowerment and leadership. Globally, the group’s target is to support 100 female-founded businesses by 2020.

More than 90% of the female entrepreneurs involved in the research said starting a business as a woman is extremely difficult

The Hear Her Voice research takes an in-depth look at how women in SSA can leverage technological advancements to enhance their businesses.

The research for Hear Her Voice SSA was conducted in multiple countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria and SA, to understand female entrepreneurship across the region. Though the paper doesn’t highlight the Namibian and Nigerian markets, it’s important to note that they were part of the study and key in assisting with a robust understanding of female entrepreneurs in the region. 

The research discovered that the overarching motivational driver for female entrepreneurs to start their own businesses is born out of necessity, not opportunity. In this paper, the key findings are explored extensively with the lack of mentorship; shortage of personal and business skills; and deficit of networking and business expansion opportunities among female entrepreneurs across SSA being the core focus areas. 

More than 90% of the female entrepreneurs involved in the research said starting a business as a woman is extremely difficult, and they would have benefited from having a support structure throughout their journey, both from a personal and professional perspective, as this would have equipped them to build a successful and sustainable business. 

One of the core pillars of the Female Foundry initiative is to provide entrepreneurs with access to mentors that will assist them in developing their businesses. For more insight into the profile of a female entrepreneurs in SSA, as well as the key challenges they face, download the full report here. 

The primary approach consisted of a qualitative convenience sampling method over a one-month period, in which 2,903 female respondents from multiple sectors — for example, finance, banking, media, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) were interviewed via the online business radio station, eBizRadio.com. 

These respondents were sourced from a total base of 8,425 female subscribers from key SSA emerging markets: Kenya (1,023), Ghana (789) and SA (1,091). The Namibian respondents are not included in these figures as their feedback was taken from social platforms.

Respondents from each market were asked to further answer questions via Facebook, Skype, email, WhatsApp and eBizRadio.com to ascertain the core challenges women face when entering the entrepreneurship world. 

For more information, visit www.dentsuaegisnetwork.com

This article was paid for by Dentsu Aegis Network South Africa.