Welcome to the 2023 edition of the Women’s Report!
The empowerment of women can be realised through a myriad of mechanisms, one of which is supporting women to achieve economic independence. This is, however, easier said than done, and requires insight into their specific circumstances and contexts, which is why this year’s Women’s Report positions the ecosystem of women’s entrepreneurship under the loupe.
When considering the plight of the poorest of the poor, social grants are often proposed as a simple, quick-fix solution. Aside from the social stigma attached to passively receiving ‘a handout’ — a bill that taxpayers have to foot — it is sterile and unsustainable, and is glaringly detached from the financial reality of the cost of living. It is neither enough to live on, nor a source of seed capital to kick-start financial independence and build a better life. In brilliant contrast, supporting women’s entrepreneurship encourages agency, with a positive impact on not only the woman being empowered, but also the members of the society in which she is active, with ongoing and incrementally growing socio-economic ripple effects — not the least of which is employment creation — that ultimately benefit the country’s economy.
In support of this argument, in this year’s edition of the Women’s Report, we explore women’s entrepreneurship from multiple angles. Thobile Radebe and Mark Smith make a case for entrepreneurship as a mechanism for economic empowerment. Lack of funding is a widely recognised root cause of women’s entrepreneurial ideas languishing as just that — ideas, which ties in with the article by Masha Samsami, Natanya Meyer, and Angus Bowmaker-Falconer, who look at a viable solution, aptly named ‘business angels’. Moving on in the narrative, Nishana Bhogal shares the success story of women entrepreneurs who are changing the lives of women and school-going girls by alleviating period poverty. In the last article, Thea Tselepis and Cecile Nieuwenhuizen provide a snapshot of an important behind-the-scenes support structure, namely entrepreneurship education. Through interviews, they delve into the methods these women apply, and illustrate the circles of impact of this very important foundational aspect of equipping and empowering the women entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
Wishing you happy reading!