A group of 50 South African women are the latest cohort to graduate from the UK-SA Tech Hub-sponsored Future Females Business School in a partnership designed to boost female entrepreneurship in the country.
Set up earlier this year by Future Females – a Cape-Town based international movement seeking to better support female entrepreneurs’ success – the programme delivered in partnership with the UK-SA Tech Hub has helped 50 South African female tech entrepreneurs transform their early-stage ideas into businesses.
Support for female entrepreneurs with early-stage technology ventures
The Future Females Business School is for any South African female entrepreneur with an idea or early-stage business who is ready to upskill and use technology to bring their businesses to life. “Our partnership with the UK-SA Tech Hub arose out of the need for greater skills development support for South African female entrepreneurs, in particular for those entrepreneurs in underserved regions, who generally do not have access to programmes of this nature,” explains Lauren Dallas, co-founder of Future Females.The programme sponsored women entrepreneurs from five provinces: Western Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Kwa-Zulu Natal & Gauteng.
Encouraging female participation in entrepreneurship in South Africa
Political analyst and entrepreneur Asanda Ngoasheng is among the first cohorts to graduate. Commenting, she said: “I joined this course thinking it would help me develop the digital tools I needed for an app I am going to build. But it actually took me in a different and even more exciting direction. It has also been a huge help in further developing my vision of becoming a global academic.”As Relocate Global‘s Think Women community and movements like International Women’s Day address, women across the world face multiple barriers to achieving their economic potential.In South Africa, low economic growth has resulted in a drop in the number of women who are participating in entrepreneurship in the middle-income economy. The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) puts this at around 6% of the working-age population. Across South Africa and gender as a whole, total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in the country is below both the regional and national average according to GEM’s analysis.
Building a stronger digital ecosystem in South Africa
“We were really hoping to empower aspiring entrepreneurs to get started on their journey and to overcome the pervasive fear of failure that exists, particularly with female entrepreneurs. Starting can often be the most difficult part!” says Shirley Gilbey, director of the UK-SA Tech Hub, the body aiming to develop a stronger digital ecosystem in South Africa through the development of skills, entrepreneurship and business partnerships “Reading success stories of other entrepreneurs can be both inspiring and depressing because you want to get there, but there are so many obstacles you even consider getting a job,” said Nombulelo Ngcamu, a university student and budding entrepreneur who graduated from the UK-SA Tech Hub sponsored programme.“This is why I hope other entrepreneurs also get an opportunity to be part of this programme and this community.”The Female First Business School programme hand-selected 50 female entrepreneurs who were passionate about their ideas, technology and making a positive social impact by building businesses that benefit themselves, their community and the world around them. The programme was delivered primarily online, with a launch in Cape Town and a graduation event in Johannesburg where all members were invited to attend, network and celebrate their achievements and businesses. Following the first cohort’s success, the initiative is now inviting applications for its next intake.