The entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa fails to give sufficient weight to the importance of female mentorship of female-run small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), according to Tashline Jooste, chief executive officer (CEO) at South Africa’s Innovator Trust.
The Innovator Trust is a South African enterprise development organisation which focuses on accelerating black female owned ICT-oriented SMMEs.
Acording to Jooste, the growth and success of many female-owned SMMEs can become stagnated due to challenges impacting a business’s sustainability; a number of which can be attributed to a lack of support and mentorship from fellow female entrepreneurs in the ICT space.
Jooste says that in order to address the concerns of women in ICT, there is imperative to encourage heightened collaboration and alignment among women entrepreneurs.
“An ideal solution to this can be found in the incorporation of mentorship initiatives, targeted specifically at female entrepreneurs and business owners,” Jooste says.
“With dedicated mentors involved, an SMME is more likely to succeed in the long term.”
Jooste explains successful female entrepreneurs are best placed to support their peers with regard to gender-specific issues and challenges in the business space, based on their on the ground experiences. Sharing this experience with peers can contribute to developing thriving female-run businesses, she says.
“Mentorship for female entrepreneurs is a critical piece of the puzzle for a well-functioning business,” says Jooste.
“There is a serious need for female mentors in the ICT arena to offer support and guidance from a common ground perspective. Having a mentor who is empathetic and mutually understanding to female-specific scenarios in the workplace assists in creating motivated and committed female entrepreneurs who prosper and thrive in the ICT sector.”
According to Jooste, established female entrepreneurs are not active enough in supporting upcoming entrepreneurs, and need to be encouraged to “pay it forward”.
“By imparting knowledge and lessons learnt through experience to new females joining the industry, we can help ensure there are strong and innovative female entrepreneurs, adding to the foundation for a competitive economy.”