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World Economic Forum

Women have more advantage over men, says top SA female entrepreneur

Women in South Africa have more of an advantage over men when it comes to starting a business because of the large number of business support programmes available to them, says a top SA female entrepreneur.

Finfind CEO Darlene Menzies has been selected along with five other women by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the continent’s top female entrepreneurs.

“I think that we have a bit more of an advantage over men in this country in terms of starting a business from all the different accelerators and programmes,” Menzies, whose web platform helps small businesses to source finance, told Ventureburn.

Read more: Finfind initiative to link SA lenders with entrepreneurs seeking finance

Menzies believes there are now more women in South Africa starting small businesses than there are women holding executive positions in the corporate world.

‘I think that we have a bit more of an advantage over men in this country’

“I would encourage and challenge any women that the opportunities are awaiting them and that they should just get into them,” she said.

WEF searched for the top female entrepreneurs in tech to demonstrate and highlight the positive role they play in helping to drive growth, create employment as well as prepare their regions for more economic growth.

During the search, hundreds of applications were sent in, during the search the top six emerged from all over Africa including SA, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.

WEF set strict criteria for entrants. Eligible startups needed to be less than three-years old, show at least one year of revenue and have an innovative technology or business model operation.

The selected entrepreneurs are:

  • Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja, Fresh Direct Nigeria (Nigeria): Has created stackable container farms allowing residents in urban areas gain access to fresh produce resulting in less stress on land use and the importation of vegetables.
  • Temie Giwa-Tubosun, LifeBank (Nigeria): Utilises digital supply chain thinking to help deliver medical products such as blood to hospitals and medical centres using predictive modelling.
  • Esther Karwera, Akorion (Uganda): Has developed software that categorises smallholding farmers into ‘digital value chains’ helping them sell directly to businesses.
  • Aisha Pandor, SweepSouth (South Africa): Through their platform has created employment opportunities for 3000 domestic workers since being founded. The platform employs algorithms to match its customers who need domestic work done with available domestic workers.
  • Charity Wanjiku, Strauss Energy Ltd. (Kenya): The company’s solar roofing tiles are able to undercut conventional tiles by 30%. Strauss Energy recently completed a pilot project at a secondary school where it helps to cut its power bill.

Commenting on how it felt to be one of the women recognised as the best in tech in Africa, Pandor said it was an honour to be listed.

“To be recognised on that level is a big honour, it’s also a show of commitment from the WEF to want to understand and engage with businesses that apply their technology on the African continent.”

However, when it comes to equality in entrepreneurship, she feels that there’s still a way to go.

“We’re not there yet in terms of numbers and in terms of support that women get at the higher levels, so there is certainly a lot of work that needs to be done.

“But I feel very positive as a young female entrepreneur as to where my position will be in the next five to 10 years — I feel like things will change in terms of numbers and percentages.”

Featured image: Jolanda Flaubacher via World Economic Forum Flickr (CC 2.0, resize)

(Edited by Stephen Timm)

Author Bio

Matthew Alexander
A grown man and avid gamer, anime enthusiast as well as an MMA practitioner, he’s a living symbol of Liquorice allsorts. His inquisitive nature is by far his greatest strength. If he doesn’t know something, he will soon enough. His passion for writing started at a very young... More