Women in business


Women in business

Guess what; it is August, and it is internationally women’s month! International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world and especially here in South Africa – Cape Town and if you’re a woman reading this newsletter today, please receive the deepest sentiments from our Entrepreleaders team. It is a month when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. But how about we dig into a little bit of history to understand how thisn day came about?

The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions. But the first milestone in US was much earlier – in 1848. Indignant over women being barred from speaking at an anti-slavery convention, Americans Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott congregate a few hundred people at their nation’s first women’s rights convention in New York. Together they demanded civil, social, political and religious rights for women in a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions.

Now, since this is all about business, leadership and entrepreneurship, let’s explore the stories of some incredible women entrepreneurs and leaders. In fact, when you hear woman entrepreneur, what first comes to mind? Let me guess, Oprah, right? BUT! Before there was any Oprah or the like of Ariana Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, and in the context of Africa Bridgette Radebe, Ethiopian Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu and more recently University of Cape Town graduate  Rapeland Rabana,  there was African American Sarah Breedlove. Sarah – better known as Madam C.J. Walker – was the first woman entrepreneur in history and first self-made female millionaire, at least from historical records. There’s currently a Netflix movie released about her life titled “Self-Made” so feel free to check it out. Walker’s success was largely due to her ability to recognize a problem, gain the knowledge and experience to solve it, and put together a dream team. But what made her success skyrocket in such a short amount of time were her sales skills. Walker was known for going door-to-door to sell her beauty products and showing women how to use it.

Women in business have come a long way since the first women’s rights convention in 1848. Over the years, countless women such as C.J Walker have shattered glass ceilings and made their mark in various industries. Today, we celebrate the remarkable achievements of women in business and acknowledge the continued efforts towards gender equality.

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number of women-owned businesses. Women entrepreneurs are breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and proving that success knows no gender. From tech startups to fashion empires, women are making their mark in every sector imaginable as you can see from the image below.

A great example of a trailblazer who deserves recognition in our modern era is Internationally renowned technology entrepreneur, Rapelang Rabana. She has amassed 15 years’ experience building innovative technology companies. She is the Founder of Rekindle Learning and FFWD Innovation. B.Bus.Sci. (Computer Science Honours), and M.Sci, Univ. of Cape Town. Her Recipient honors and awards, includes Entrepreneur for the World-by-World Entrepreneurship Forum; Young Global Leader by World Economic; Forum Forbes 30 under 30 – Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs; Fast Company Maverick; Harambe Entrepreneur, Endeavor High-Impact Entrepreneur; Oprah Magazine O Power List. “I believe that in 10 years, one of the greatest drivers of data usage on the continent will not just be entertainment and social media, but educational, training, and learning content, and I want Rekindle Learning to be at the crux of that,” says Rabana.

And let’s not forget Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook. With her bestselling book “Lean In,” Sandberg sparked a global conversation about women’s empowerment in the workplace. Her advocacy for gender equality and her efforts to change corporate culture have inspired women around the world to strive for leadership positions and pursue their ambitions fearlessly.

Lastly, but not least, our very own Entrepreleaders School 2020 graduate Deosa A-Mutomb. Deosa was born in Congo DRC and migrated to South Africa, Cape Town in 2014 to further her higher education studies.  After joining Entrepreleaders School in 2020, she launched a revolutionary new startup called Osa Osa Projects. Osa Osa Projects aims at promoting, inspiring and discovering rising entrepreneurs, mostly African talents and skills from around the continent by writing and publishing stories about them. In a similar way to Arianna Huffington and her famous HuffPost, Deosa makes sure that unheard talents and entrepreneurs are seen, heard and exposed. She’s dynamic, resilient and as die hard as they come. Her fearless approach to business and unwavering belief in the power of storytelling have exposed many women and other African talents looking to be heard and to make a difference.

These remarkable women have not only achieved remarkable success in their respective fields but have also used their influence to uplift and support other women. They have become role models, mentors, and champions of gender equality, reminding us all of the importance of lifting each other up.

As we celebrate International Women’s Month, let us continue to support and uplift women in business. Let us create an environment that fosters equal opportunities, celebrates diversity, and recognizes the immense contributions that women make to the global economy. Together, we can build a future where gender equality is no longer a dream but a reality.

Remember, the success of women in business benefits us all. So let’s continue to break down barriers, challenge norms, and create a world where women can thrive and succeed.

As a last takeaway for this article, please find below and well catered dos and don’ts if you’re a woman considering starting something, anything up the ground.

  • Don’t try to wear the pants: Aspiring female entrepreneurs often feel that to beat the men in business, they must adopt the “male attitude.” FALSE. Women should remember that they got this far by being themselves.
  •  Don’t be afraid to fail: According to Babson College’s 2012 Global Entrepreneur Monitor, the fear of failure is the top concern women entrepreneurs have. 
  • Don’t forget about the funds: One of the top challenges women entrepreneurs do face is getting funding. According to Inc.com, women have a hard time raising funds offline. Online, however, female founders perform equal to or better than men.
  • Do continue to support each other: According to Inc.com, 94% of decision makers at venture capitalist funds are male. Venture capital firms with women partners, however, are more than twice as likely to invest in companies with a woman on the executive team. 
  • Do continue to manage work-life balance: Aspiring female entrepreneurs often fear that success will take a toll on family life when, in fact, in a PayPal survey, 55% of American women entrepreneurs said they were motivated to start their own business to achieve better work-life balance.

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