Strengthening the she-network for female entrepreneurship success in SA

Ashleigh Butterworth, Bizcommunity.com

Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

Female entrepreneurs have made strides in South Africa to overcome gender-related challenges and grow their businesses in an everchanging economic climate. Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs Index (MIWE) 2022, highlighted some of these successes when it comes to female entrepreneurship in South Africa, with improvements in our ranking for both cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs (up nine places to rank 37th) and competitiveness (up three places to rank 25th) globally.

However, despite these successes, our country still falls by the wayside when it comes to our entrepreneurial framework indicator, having dropped two places since 2020 (rank 54). This indicator is based on access to infrastructure and ease of access to skilled employees. In addition to the never-ending gender biases thrown their way, female entrepreneurs also face inevitable issues such as a high tax rate, loadshedding business disturbance and a rocky political landscape.

According to the 2020/21 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report, in Africa more than 50% of entrepreneurs are women with 70% of them from the informal sector, with limited access to financial services. So how exactly have female business leaders managed to stay focused and determined to build their companies even when the odds seem stacked against them? In an effort to help female entrepreneurs thrive in South Africa, a couple of powerhouse women share their own insights on how to take a step up.

Build your she-network and knowledge

Only 17% of 25-34-year-old women have attained a tertiary education in South Africa. This is one of the lowest among African countries according to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Knowledge is power, especially in the case of female business owners who may not have received formal education because of gendered career paths. If you are looking to upskill, organisations such as Get Smarter and CPUT (Cape Town University of Technology), offer business management short courses targeted at entrepreneurs in SA. A less formal route of financial and business education is also an option, with sites like Fincheck Academy and Sage’s blog, being invaluable resources for entrepreneurs. Financial literacy is key for female entrepreneurs. It allows them to be in control of their money and to make smart decisions about costs and cash flow. This is vital for small businesses, as it can help them increase their chances of survival.

Networking and leveraging your female communities are especially important in your early growth stages. Building these strong networks can lead to business growth, but also increased confidence which is something female leaders often lack. According to Harvard Business Review, women can benefit from taking a strategic approach to networking. The report further states that focusing on a higher level of centrality and connecting with people who are connected to multiple networks should be vital in your strategy. LinkedIn reiterates this need to get started on networking, with 14-38% of women globally being less likely than men to have a strong network – one that’s both large and diverse. Organisations like Future Females, a community-based learning experience for women and Women Who Build Africa, a network for women in tech, offer females in South Africa an opportunity to thrive in the business world.

Technological development assists women-owned businesses

According to the Digital Gender Gap, 60 % of global GDP is set to be digitised in 2022, this alone proves how critical it is for female entrepreneurs to get on the digital train. Technology plays an essential role in making sure that business growth is accessible. According to Harvard Business Review, access to tech is not only fuel for business growth but also a key driver in accelerating global gender equality.

The UN echoed this sentiment, by making technology a crucial part of its innovation strategy for 2018–2021. Female entrepreneurs all over the world are using technology to get a step ahead – however, a missing piece of the puzzle remains skills development.

In South Africa specifically, action needs to be taken to drastically improve the training and support that is available to female-owned businesses, so that they can access and utilise new technologies. A sad reality in sub-Saharan Africa is that a majority of female entrepreneurs barely make ends meet, and very often are not found in the formal business sector. These women predominantly operate in the informal sector with very limited opportunities available to increase their profits, and this is where technology can play a significant role.

“Mobile phones and digital platforms are already benefiting female entrepreneurs: connecting them to markets, providing multi-lingual training, and facilitating their collective action.” According to the UN high-level panel, if technology is implemented effectively, it provides an opportunity for growth in this sector. Entrepreneurship is empowering for anyone no matter their gender. For women it’s especially empowering in terms of flexibility, being able to take control of their business journey as well as pursuing whatever other passions they may have. Technology adoption in Africa has also made it easier for women to balance their family responsibilities with their careers and skills upliftment.

On the flip side, another contributor to accelerating global gender equality in the business sector is correcting the underrepresentation of women in tech. We need more females designing products with female business owners in mind. Inclusive product design starts with ensuring that the teams building these products are diverse and truly understand the needs of the end user.

Access to finance

Business funding is probably one of the biggest barriers for female entrepreneurs. For example, in 2019 we saw less than 5% of VC funding for African startups going towards companies with female founders. In Sub-Saharan Africa currently, there is a $42 billion dollar funding gap for female entrepreneurs, and if the gender gap is bridged, it’s estimated that a $316bn GDP could be gained by 2025. These statistics highlight the need for new lending models and more women-focused lending institutions.

Female entrepreneurs in South Africa generally own fewer assets than men, and because they don’t have this collateral it often makes the loan process more difficult. Lending networks like Xena Capital, give women access to funding tailored to their needs – by doing so, they are unlocking the potential of the female economy. FundingHub is another such platform, although not only for women, which puts the power at the fingertips of the borrower, by letting shepreneurs choose between offers from various lenders. According to Sage, women manage credit much better than men do, and when invested in, women have a 27% credit turnover, compared to 8% in a male-run business.

The South African government especially needs to take the necessary steps to give female entrepreneurs better financial support. NEF Women Empowerment Fund and Isivande Women’s Fund, are two such funds (aimed at black female business owners) that have been created with the help of both the government and large banks. Having formal financial structures like these in place for women to use, will catapult their businesses from ideation to success in no time. There’s no denying that women-led businesses are just as profitable as those led by men, if not more so. But what’s even more valuable is that these businesses are more likely to have a positive social impact.

If you can’t see it, you can’t be it

Role models and mentors are crucial for entrepreneurs, especially for female business owners where there aren’t as many female leaders to look up to. It’s alarming that there were only four female CEOs among the top 40 JSE-listed companies in 2021. In addition to that, only 5% of all listed companies have a female CEO. So how do we get more women into leadership roles, and how do more women become thriving and successful entrepreneurs?

Every bit of advice, and guidance is essential on your business journey, but role models you resonate with, give you that extra boost of confidence to reach your goals. “You can’t be what you can’t see”, is a phrase that too perfectly fits the women in business narrative – budding entrepreneurs need to be able to talk to women who have gone through and overcome the same challenges as them.

Tips on how to stand out from your male counterparts, how to put together an innovative business plan that investors can’t resist, or simply how to get people to buy into your product – are all valuable questions best answered by people who have walked a similar path to yourself.

If women are to be equal players in the entrepreneurship game in South Africa, support needs to be facilitated by government, lenders, private companies and mentors. This support combined with the drive and determination to succeed will be pivotal in growing the number of thriving female-owned businesses.

South African coal exports to Europe surge, shipments to Asia decline

By Nelson Banya

South Africa’s coal sales to Europe rose eight-fold during the first half of 2022 compared with last year as demand for the fossil fuel surged ahead of a ban on Russian coal, Thungela Resources said on Monday, 15 August.

Source: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

In April, the European Union announced a ban on coal imports from Russia as part of sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. The ban came into effect on 10 August.

Ahead of the ban, European countries, which previously imported 45% of their coal from Russia and have been switching away from expensive natural gas to coal, started to source the fossil fuel from other countries, including South Africa.

Thungela, a leading South African coal exporter and part of a consortium which owns Africa’s largest coal export facility, the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), said Europe was competing with Asia for South African coal.

Tunisia’s GDP grows 2.8% in Q2 of 2022

Staff Writer, Agency Tunis Afrique Press

A general view shows part of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, April 17, 2016. Zoubeir Souissi, Reuters Images

The results of quarterly national accounts for Q2 showed the annual economic growth stood at 2.8%

The gross domestic product (GDP) posted a year-on-year growth of 2.8% in Q2 of 2022, the National iInstitute of Statistics (French: INS) said on Monday.

The results of quarterly national accounts for Q2 showed the annual economic growth stood at 2.8% after an annual 2.4% rise in Q1 of 2022. The volume of the GDP in terms of quarterly variations shrank 1% compared to the previous quarter.

This increase is driven by the dynamics of the services sector (+5.2% year-on-year), particularly in relation to accommodation and catering (+42.5%) and transport (+19%). In manufacturing industries, textile as well mechanical and electrical engineering industries reported an acceleration in the pace of growth with the respective rates of +16.4% and +6.3%.

Growth dropped in petroleum and natural gas extraction (-15.7%), construction (-11.6%), building materials industries (- 6.9%) and chemical industries (-2%).

Nigeria’s annual inflation rises to highest level since 2005

Reuters

The Victoria Island waterfront is seen from the Ikoyi neighbourhood in Lagos June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney Reuters Images

ABUJA – Nigeria’s annual inflation quickened in July to its highest level since 2005, official data showed on Monday, driven by price rises for food, fuel and clothing.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said inflation rose for the sixth straight month, hitting 19.64% from 18.60% year on year in June.

NBS data showed the July inflation reading was the highest since at least the start of 2009.

Refinitiv data showed it was the highest since the 24.32% recorded in September, 2005.

Inflation has been in double digits in Africa’s biggest economy since 2016, fuelled partly by a weakening of its naira currency.

Food prices were up 22.02% year on year in July, caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam, meat, fish, oil and other items.

Core inflation, which excludes prices of farm produce, was up 16.26% from the same period last year, with gas, liquid and solid fuel, transportation by road and air, garments and hire of clothing among contributing factors.

Rising inflation and the state of the economy are major issues as the country heads for a national election in February, when voters will choose a new president as incumbent Muhammadu Buhari steps down.

The naira currency has been weakening on the parallel market due to a scarcity of foreign currency since July 2021, when the central bank stopped forex sales to retail currency traders to ease pressure on reserves and support the official market.

The move funnelled demand towards the unofficial market, where the currency is freely traded.

Policymakers argue persistent inflationary pressures are structural and largely related to imports.

Analysts at Capital Economics said in a research note that Nigeria’s inflation was probably not far from its peak but would remain elevated.

They predicted another interest rate increase at the central bank’s next policy meeting in September.

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Reuters

Electricity pylons and power transmission lines are seen along a road in Cairo, Egypt Septamber 10, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO: Egypt’s Cabinet has approved a plan to ration electricity to save natural gas that it will instead divert to the export market to generate foreign currency, it said on Thursday.

Egypt has suffered from an acute foreign currency shortage since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up global commodity prices, led to the collapse of tourism from the two countries and drove up the cost of borrowing.

Under the draft plan, shops and malls will have to limit their use of strong lights and keep their air conditioning at no cooler than 25 degrees Celsius.

Ministries and government facilities will have to turn off lighting at the end of working hours, the statement added. Street lighting will also be reduced.

The government last month postponed a planned increase in electricity prices by six months. The higher prices would have been intensely unpopular among a population that over the last few years has endured a series of harsh austerity measures.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the government hoped to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity by 15 percent. He said domestic power plants bought their natural gas at one-tenth the price that it could fetch on international markets.

Europe has been seeking alternative sources of gas to cut its reliance on Russian gas as the war in Ukraine escalates.

Rapid growth in Egypt’s natural gas supplies, boosted by the discovery of the Mediterranean’s largest field, turned it from a net importer to an exporter in late 2018.

Egypt exported 9.45 million cubic meters of liquid natural gas in the first seven months of 2022, up 44 percent from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv data. 

South African rand edges lower after strong week

Reuters

The South African rand edged lower late on Friday, after a strong week in which it was bolstered by traders looking for signs of U.S. inflation peaking.

Markets interpreted U.S. inflation figures this week as indicating the Federal Reserve could be less aggressive in its interest rate hikes, weakening the dollar and boosting emerging market currencies like the rand.

But on Friday the dollar reversed some of the week’s losses.

At 1530 GMT, the rand ZAR=D3 traded at 16.2800 against the dollar, more than 0.1% weaker than its previous close.

The dollar =USD was up 0.6% against a basket of currencies.

The risk-sensitive rand is highly susceptible to swings in global sentiment and the outlook for U.S. monetary policy, especially when there are few domestic economic data releases.

Next week the local data calendar is light, with June retail sales ZARET=ECI on Wednesday a highlight.

Johannesburg-listed shares ended the week on a softer footing.

The All-share index .JALSH closed down 0.75% and the Top-40 index .JTOPI was down 0.96%.

An outlier was paper and packaging firm Mondi MNPJ.J, whose shares rose more than 10% after it said it had agreed to sell its largest plant in Russia for about $1.6 billion.

The South African government’s benchmark 2030 bond ZAR2030= was weaker, with the yield up 11.5 basis points to 9.93%.

Ethiopia Completes Third Phase of Filling Giant Nile Dam

By Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia has completed the third phase of filling the reservoir for its huge dam on the Blue Nile river, the government said on Friday, a process that continues to irk the country’s downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan.

Addis Ababa says the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a $4 billion hydropower project, is crucial to powering its economic development, but Egypt and Sudan consider it a serious threat to their vital water supplies.

Long-running diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute between the three countries have yielded little success.

Ethiopia sees the GERD as the centrepiece of its bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, with a projected capacity of more than 6,000 megawatts.

“Prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced the successful completion of the GERD’s 3rd filling,” the prime minister’s office said on Twitter, adding that Ethiopia was working “to ensure the benefits of the lower basin countries”.

Abiy held a ceremony officially turning on the dam’s second turbine on Thursday, six months after the first came online. Photographs shared by Abiy’s office showed him standing at a podium in front of a huge plume of water being discharged from the front of the dam.

Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rises to 13.6% in July

Reuters

Customers shopping amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic sit at a food court at Mall of Egypt, known as “Mall Masr” owned and operated by the Majid Al Futtaim Group in the Giza suburb of 6th of October, Egypt September 27, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation accelerated to 13.6% year-on-year in July from 13.2% in June, data from the country’s statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Wednesday.

AngloGold Ashanti CEO sees inflation pressure easing next year

Reuters

 A small toy figure and gold imitation are seen in front of the AngloGold Ashanti logo in this illustration taken November 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

AngloGold Ashanti’s CEO expects inflationary pressures to ease next year, he said on Friday after the miner joined rivals in reporting a hit to half-year profit and forecast that costs would be at the top end of guidance this year.

Lower commodities prices in 2023 are likely to bring the company’s costs inflation down to a single-digit percentage from a peak of about 13%, Chief Executive Alberto Calderon told Reuters.

Calderon estimated that 40% of the cost increase in the first half of this year was attributable to diesel prices.

The South Africa-based gold miner reported first-half production up 3% year on year at 1.233 million ounces and said production would increase in the second half to meet 2022 guidance of between 2.55 and 2.8 million ounces.

But headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa, came in at 71 U.S. cents, down 18% from a year earlier. Total cash costs were up 6% at $1,068 an ounce as inflation accelerated, but Calderon said he was happy the increase had been “limited”.

“We are pleased with what we were able to do,” he told reporters, adding that most of the company’s rivals have had “serious issues” with costs.

COST CUTS PLEDGE

Calderon said AngloGold can achieve the necessary reduction in second-half cash costs to remain within the company’s cash cost guidance of $925 to $1015 per ounce for the year.

Newmont Corp, the world’s biggest gold miner, last week raised its annual costs forecast and warned that inflationary pressures would persist into next year, sending its shares down 12%.

AngloGold, which mines in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea and Tanzania, produced 1.233 million ounces of gold in the first half, with second-quarter output up 10% from the first quarter owing to higher grades.

Adjusted net debt fell 13% year on year to $740 million while free cash flow came in at $471 million, compared with a $25 million outflow in the first half of last year, lifted by cash distributions from its Kibali mine in Congo, a joint venture operated by Barrick Gold Corp.

After recent reported cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus near AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine in Ghana, Calderon said the company has activated all its protocols for dealing with epidemics.

“The information we have is that it is, right now, controlled,” he said.

Africa defies global trend with funding for startups surging

By CGTN Africa

As funding for startups falls across the globe, Africa is standing out as a notable exception, with its under-served population outweighing the impact of inflation and slowing economies.

Funding for startups in the world’s second-largest continent more than doubled to 3.14 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of the year, according to research firm Africa: The Big Deal. That compares with a decline ranging from 3.7 percent in Europe to 43 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Macro trends affecting developed-market tech names will be less impactful to Africa. Klarna, Paypal, others are being hit by fears over inflation and what that means for consumer transactions,” said Lexi Novitske, a general partner with Norrsken22, an Africa-focused tech fund that was set up by Swedish startup founders. “Africa’s story is more around bringing the under-penetrated market online.”

If the trend continues, funding for startups may exceed the record 5 billion U.S. dollars raised last year. Entrepreneurs are racing to provide services ranging from payment and health care to educational offerings to more than 1.2 billion people on the continent, which lacks adequate financial infrastructure and last-mile delivery. Still, the amount received by African firms is minuscule when compared with countries such as the U.S., where companies raised 123 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of the year, 11 percent less than last year.

For some investors, that shows the opportunity in Africa.

“The African venture capital market is far less advanced than that of the developed markets,” said Amrish Narrandes, head of private equity and venture capital at Cape Town-based Futuregrowth Asset Management. “It follows that more growth can be expected in the African market.”

Africa’s advantages range from the undeveloped nature of its markets to a relatively young population who are quick to grasp the technology offered by startups. The average age of an African is 18, compared with 31 in South America and Asia, the next youngest continents, according to Visual Capitalist.

“Startup companies in Africa are solving real problems, where existing businesses either do not exist or do not have the dynamism to make changes,” according to the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. Traditional banks have failed to broaden access to financial services and decrepit state postal services provide opportunities for delivery companies, it said.

Still, even within Africa hubs are growing at different speeds. In the six months through June, the amount of startup capital raised increased more than fourfold in Kenya, while it more than doubled in Nigeria. New funding was little changed in South Africa, according to Narrandes.

The pace of the increase will also likely ease in coming months as the economic woes elsewhere have some impact as many of the funding rounds were agreed upon months earlier, Novitske said.

“I do hear from many founders things are slower,” said Ido Sum, partner at TLcom Capital, a pan-African fund. Even so, “fundamentals are still very attractive, probably more than many other regions,” he said.

Original article published by Bloomberg Africa