A community’s health, education and child nutrition improve when women earn higher incomes, according to research done by UN Women, and entrepreneurship is a good way for women in poorer communities to earn more.

However, around the world many female small and medium enterprise (SME) owners face particular challenges due to their gender, the World Bank says, including balancing their family commitments with running their businesses; limited education or even illiteracy; legal hurdles in some countries where, for example, women are not allowed to own property; and financial and digital exclusion.

This is why Andiswa Bata, FNB business regional head for southwest Gauteng, advocates making an effort to help women-owned SMEs.

“The case for uplifting female entrepreneurship is clear. Though there are measures SA female entrepreneurs can (and should) take to ensure their own success, there are also things mature, male- and female-led businesses, business leaders, academics and society at large can do to help.”

She advises the following:

  • Make a conscious effort to trade with or buy from women-owned SMEs, then follow through on this by always paying them on time.

  • When you have bought from a female entrepreneur and are happy with the service you received, promote her business among your friends and associates and on social media.

  • Take a stand on removing any barriers you can. It may be as simple as including a female entrepreneur on a panel to ensure greater diversity or addressing the gender pay gap if you are an employer.

  • Next time you are offered something that you can give up without really losing out — such as the chance to speak in a webinar — pass it on to a female entrepreneur.

  • Share what you have learnt through years of experience or courses you have been able to attend — anything from cash-flow management and hiring techniques, to marketing and stock management.

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