Here are the biggest challenges women entrepreneurs need to overcome

Expert view on obstacles faced by today’s female entrepreneurs


There is no doubt that the number of women entrepreneurs has grown over the years. However, today’s female business owners have more obstacles to overcome in the business world than their male counterparts. 

According to Happy Ralinala, head of business banking South Africa at Barclays Africa Group, women hold the key to unlocking economic growth in the country and more needs to be done to foster female entrepreneurs.

"We know that given the opportunity, women would invest most of their income into their families and communities. This means that putting more wealth in the hands of women could have a significant positive multiplier effect on the economy," Ralinala says.

Ralinala also says women entrepreneurs, particularly in South Africa, still face more obstacles in starting their own businesses than men and this she says can be attributed to certain unique abilities they bring to the business world.

Biggest challenges 

Here are some of the challenges Ralinala says female entrepreneurs get to face that their male counterparts don’t have to deal with.

Financing and credibility

Ralinala says that access to finance is a major constraint for many female entrepreneurs. 
"Women and rural black women in particular continue to have a raw deal in this regard. They have difficulties accessing finance for various reasons, including poverty, limited employment in the formal sector, and cultural barriers to land and property ownership. Access to bank funding is also on average more restrictive for women-owned small and medium enterprises. 

Social barriers

Ralinala says other challenges that female entrepreneurs face include socialisation networks and practices, family roles and possible lack of business contacts. 
"Social conventions, for example, dictate the roles of men and women in the household, workforce and society. These conventions tend to have a negative effect on the ability of women to start and grow their businesses. These disadvantages, therefore, can explain higher failure rates and lower growth rates for women-owned businesses."

Overcoming the challenges

Ralinala says that although female entrepreneurs continue to face hurdles in the business world, there are a number of female business owners who, through hard work, have overcome these challenges and have gone to create a name for themselves in the business world. 

She furthermore highlights that despite the inequalities between men and women in business, there is a lot that can be done to better develop future female entrepreneurs. 

"The challenges women face provide opportunities for women themselves, various stakeholders, including the NGOs, government, financial institutions and other private sector players in addressing the issues. We all need to become more committed to fostering an environment that supports women entrepreneurs," says Ralinala. 

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