My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Women Entrepreneurs

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs on Women's Day

South African women entrepreneurs answer two key questions: 'What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it?' And, 'What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?'
Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs on Women's Day
Image credit: Bigstock
CEO of The Workspace
12 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

There are a growing number of women entrepreneurs across the world. In fact, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates they account for a quarter to a third of all businesses in the formal economy.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2018), which benchmarks 149 countries on gender parity across four themes – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment – ranked South Africa 19th overall, but 91st the key economic participation and opportunity category.

Head of Durban’s Chamber of Commerce and industry, Palese Phili, commented on this, saying “Both government and organised business need to action policies and programmes that actively empower women, through education and access to opportunities, to join the workforce or participate in the economy as entrepreneurs and business owners.”

Related: This Podcast Interview Will Inspire Every Business Women

Not just that, she said, there was also a need for platforms that encourage and empower women to participate in the economy, and importantly, “be coached and supported by peers in having a balanced and holistic approach to their work and life.” 

In that spirit, we asked some women entrepreneurs who are members of The Workspace to answer just two questions: ‘What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it?’ And, ‘What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?’

A powerful force

Thembi Mokoena, Baradi Media Group, marketing agency.

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Create solutions that save clients time and money. We introduced market intelligence and user experience as the basis of our developments, ensuring that we answer client objectives on point, without missing the external (client’s target market) environment mark.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

There’s always a need for the talent that is out there, but because the market saturated, success depends on collaboration. Identify business models that speak to your vision, and partner with other strong businesswomen in order to create a powerful force.

Sun and rain make flowers grow

Claudia Shilumani: Centre for Communication Impact

CCI is a non-profit South African delivering HIV, health and broader development programmes centred around meaningful community engagement.

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Related: Why Women on Boards Drive Greater Success

Never give up and never be afraid of failure. This advice has helped me to stand up each time I fall, brush myself up and keep going. I have been successful in my career and in life, but I have had failures as well. The advice taught me to learn from failures and develop strategies to do things better the next time.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

Every day, make it your mission to be better than yesterday. Invest your energy into something that will help you grow. In order to grow, don’t be afraid to end bad habits, dead-end jobs and toxic relationships – they consume your mind and control your life.

Accept both compliments and criticism – it takes both the sun and the rain makes flowers grow.

Most importantly, innovate fast and iterate frequently. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. An invention can only become a profitable idea when one spends time and sweat working hard on execution.

In the current business climate – never give up. Believe in your product and your value propositions. Keep pushing those doors, one of them will eventually open.

If there is a need, there is a way

Dr Claire Mitchell: Hospital Spoils, In-hospital spa services

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

You know your company better than anyone else. Listen to advice from others, but listen to yourself more. It’s not easy. Remember a success is a failure that tried one more time and persevered through the failed attempts.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

Prepare well. Make sure there is a need for your business before you put in a whole lot of effort and money. If there is a need, there is a way, but don’t expect easy sailing.

Fearless in the pursuit of her dream

Ramona Kasavan: Mimi Women

Related: The Journey Within – Women Leaders Take Time Out For Self-Discovery

Mimi Women is a social enterprise that supports girlchildren via a non-profit company and selling the products in informal shops in South Africa.

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

The best advice I was given as a young woman was chase my dreams and be fearless in that pursuit. How I did I action it? I took chances and risks by asking for what I wanted, and not being afraid of being judged.

This gave rise to my career as a DJ, television presenter and over the last six years, as a female entrepreneur. Today I am coached and mentored by some of the most successful people in South Africa.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

My best advice would be just do it; most people are afraid to take risks as they are worried about the perception of the outside world. Don’t focus on funding, but rather on business traction and customers.

Social media has sold a lifestyle that makes people think business is easy, but it is the most challenging career. Always trust you gut and always ask for advice from mentors and advisors.

Keep your eyes on your vision

Nikashni Gajoo: Opulentus Wealth Management, financial planning for individuals and businesses

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Be yourself unapologetically. The financial planning environment is traditionally a male dominated environment. Instead of competing with males, I was encouraged to be myself and utilise my strengths as ME, a female, to attract clients.

This allowed me not only to showcase my technical skills like my male counterparts but also capitalise on my soft skills as a female, which is favourable when dealing with sensitive financial planning concerns.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

Keep your eye on your vision and don’t allow any external economic or other factors get in the way of your dreams and success. You are the creator of your own life and destiny. You have the power within to successfully fulfil your goals.

Just do it with passion

Tamara Mc Arthur: Sourcing Magic, corporate Gifting

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

You are only as good as your last job, which goes for everyone else too. Customer service is number one. Keep your clients happy.

Related: How To Access Funding As A Woman Entrepreneur In South Africa

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

Do it with passion. If there is no passion, the climb will be long and hard. With passion each little hurdle overcome brings joy and delight.

Build networks through meaningful relationships

Jo Watt: Talent Brand, talent acquisition consulting

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Don’t have all your eggs in one basket and cash is king

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

  • Have a great business plan and stick to it
  • Don’t incur overhead costs as much as possible when starting out i.e. keep rent low etc., not fun when you pay rent but not your own salary
  • Be SARS compliant always, use a reputable and reliable accounting firm to manage your finances and who will hold you accountable for your spending
  • Of your revenue a third to tax, a third retained income in the business, a third to employees to incentivise and last third to pay yourself an incentive or dividend to shareholders
  • Get yourself a coach/mentor who can support you – it gets lonely out there
  • Build your networks – all the time through meaningful relationships
  • Don’t be scared to fail, take risks or ask for help

Related: Celebrating Women In The Signage And Printing Industry

But most of all ‘failure is not an option’ if you think, “well if this doesn’t work out, I can always go get a job” then don’t do it. It’s very tough, be clear about why you are embarking on this journey and why you are choosing this path, but it will be the most empowering and rewarding experience ever.

Be brave, be bold

Vee Moodley: Tekalumin

Direct Indent Agents who supply level 1 specialized products, and related accessories to the power generation and petro-chemical industry

Q:  What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Be brave, be bold and do not be afraid to say ‘I don’t know and I will come back to you’.  Then ensure you do go back with the correct feedback and suggestions where possible. Always be truthful – this is a key criterion.

The business place is still very much a man’s world, just take baby steps and you will find there is an opening for you. Good CRM and above average service will make you different from your competitors and ensure that you build a platform that you won’t fall off - and if you do, pick yourself up and get right back onto it again!

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

Persevere – network and follow your gut. DON’T give up and pray for grace and leading. If you are in a job, don’t quit. However, network and set up a plan for how you will start, and follow through methodically.

​​​​​​​Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Business Women To Watch

Ensure enough research is done prior to starting any project, know who your competitors are, research how you can better the same offer, what can you value add and how, then implement. In all phases ensure good old-fashioned integrity and professionalism, it speaks for itself.

Look at benefits to/for yourself long term and practically – don’t rush out and buy yourself a great big car as your first priority.

Always be transparent and ethical

Sagnee Naidoo: Vela Personnel, human resources and recruitment specialists

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

You can do it. If you believe in yourself then you have the ability to make a difference given your passion and background. 

  • To do this, I brainstormed the company name. 
  • Paper work, including registration of the company, followed.
  • Vela Personnel was born in 2008
  • Hired my first staff in 2010

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

Be absolutely sure you want to take this step. Pending the business venture, make sure you have enough capital to sustain yourself while you are building your business.

Once you start don’t quit and don’t be afraid to take risks. If you trust yourself and are passionate about your business, persevere. It won’t happen overnight, so just be patient and always be transparent and ethical. Build your network with strategic people. Finally, associate with positive or like-inded people

Adversity creates opportunity

Mimi Avlonitis: Vocation Plus, recruitment, training and temporary employment services

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Have the big dreams and the big goals but don’t focus on the end result. Rather put your attention on how you can contribute and best serve your fellow human beings and focus your intention on the journey.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

You will be faced with many challenges and some adversity, but you must always remember that adversity creates opportunity. Look for those, work with the right intentions and believe. 

​​​​​​​Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

Remain calm always

Zine Nkosi: Zithaba Financial Solutions, consulting business in Accounting, Taxation, Payroll, and Secretarial Services

Q:  What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

Never seek to prove that you are equal to men. You might even be better! I view the business environment as that filled with service providers and consumers. I pay little attention to gender.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

To be persistent, to be disciplined, to keep rising every time they fall and also to remain calm always

The centre of business

Q: What was the best advice given to you as a woman entrepreneur and how did you action it? 

I must not be afraid; God is with me.

Q: What would you advise women entrepreneurs starting their journey now and in light of the current business climate?

God must be the centre of their business.

Tsakani Mabaso: VAB Travel, travel management company

Related: 50 Female Tech Entrepreneurs Graduate From Future Females Business School

More from Entrepreneur

Jon Horowitz is dedicated to helping brands with grow their social footprint by aligning with influencers and creating innovative content.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Are you paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.

Latest on Entrepreneur