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Women Entrepreneurs Grow with Mentorship It's rare that entrepreneurs succeed on their own. Most successful entrepreneurs have benefitted from a network of peers and change-makers who have helped others learn from their successes and failures.

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Courtesy of SAICA Enterprise Development
Puseletso Modimogale, Programme Manager at SAICA Enterprise Development

Written by Puseletso Modimogale, Programme Manager at SAICA Enterprise Development

I am privileged to have had several mentors throughout my career and during the 17 years of running my business who have greatly contributed to my success.

To this day, one of my passions remains that of mentoring small businesses and taking the business owners through personal development coaching. I believe that Personal Power is the single key lever to influence success.

Mentoring allows women to tap into the personal and professional skills while being mentored. Women often underestimate themselves, downplaying their talents. A mentor helps to develop the self-confidence women need to "sell' their abilities, become assertive decision-makers and even embrace failure as a necessary step to success.

A mentor is also an experienced sounding board for business ideas, an important resource for an entrepreneur to accelerate their business and Personal growth.

Supporting women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs often encounter barriers when trying to access professional networks, leading to them remaining isolated with their ambitions.

Fortunately, technology is enabling women to connect to fellow entrepreneurs around the world as an e-community. Mentorship through online platforms and social media is helping women develop the networks, business and technology skills they need to succeed.

My heart and passion is in enterprise development, especially in empowering women entrepreneurs; hence the reason I started the movement called Woman Emancipate Yourselves Foundation in 2010. I also work as a Programme Manager for SAICA Enterprise Development, which is part of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

In this role I am responsible for the success and implementation of our SMME programmes nationwide.

Women and entrepreneurship

A woman entrepreneur is an individual who identifies opportunities, allocates resources, and creates value for their clients while still making a profit.

However, we still need to see more women take influential positions and serve in the boards and become policy makers. We need to see more women become bold to run successful businesses men dominated sectors such as Mining, Construction, Agriculture, and so on.

This is where business mentoring becomes even more crucial to support women-owned businesses in these sectors.

Despite the potential contribution of women to economic development, South African women remain on the periphery of the economy, dominating the informal economy.

Despite the gender gap closing, there are still more males than females starting businesses in South Africa. The 2016/17 GEM Global Report shows that while the ratio of male to female participation in early-stage entrepreneurial activity varies, males are more likely to be involved in entrepreneurial activity; men in South Africa are 1.5 to 1.6 times more likely to be involved in early stage entrepreneurial ventures, as compared to women.

This is mainly due to the various challenges facing women, with regard to starting a business enterprise, and often juggling family and children.

Creating our own success

It has been found that women-owned business activity tend to fall predominantly in the informal sector and women face the challenge of achieving business growth that warrants entry into the mainstream economy.

This implies that participation of women in value-adding activities is significantly limited. Poor access to the wider market implies that prospects for sustainable growth of micro-enterprises owned by women are severely limited.

Furthermore, the lack of management training and a lack of sales and marketing skills are concerns that continue to plague women-owned enterprises. Business Mentoring plays a pivotal role in the success of female entrepreneurs.

Based on my experience, women entrepreneurs see the world through a different lens and, in turn, do things differently, as they say in Zulu; "wa thintha umfazi wa thintha ombokodo." This is reflected in the kinds of businesses we start, whether it's Coco Chanel, who learned the trade of a seamstress as a child, Estée Lauder, who turned a passion for skincare and make-up into a beauty empire, or Oprah Winfrey, whose media business focuses on helping women to reach their potential.

Empowered women entrepreneurs are leaders, role models and perhaps even investors. They are playing greater roles in community and household decision-making, increasing their personal wealth and are investing responsibly for the collective benefit of their families and communities.

And so, as we celebrate Women's month this August, I would like to edge more institutions to invest in the spirit of mentorship, and to women entrepreneurs – because we believe that these women will be the future mentors themselves.

Puseletso Modimogale is a Programme Manager at SAICA Enterprise Development as well as an Entrepreneur, Author, Business Mentor and Personal Development Coach, Community Builder and Inspirational speaker.

SAICA Enterprise Development offers financial excellence to entrepreneurs. Our vision is to play an active role in economic transformation in South Africa, through advancing the sustainable growth of entrepreneurial Black Businesses.