Can female entrepreneurs bounce back after COVID-19? [Sponsored]

absa women franchise entrepreneurs

As women across the world have found themselves hardest hit by the pandemic – often having to balance work responsibilities with looking after family — the impact of how COVID-19 has affected them and their revenue generation as entrepreneurs will be one of the focus areas at FASA’s Franchising in Africa conference being held virtually on the 25 and 26 August 2021.

In particular, how South African women entrepreneurs persist, despite daunting challenges; their role as employers and as engines of economic growth, is the focus of a recent study conducted by Lionesses of Africa, partnering with researchers from New York University.

“Throughout Africa, says Melanie Hawken, Founder & CEO of Lionesses of Africa, “women-led enterprises often struggle to secure resources and access to markets, so it is important to understand their strengths as well as the challenges they confront, to learn how best to support them as business leaders both during and post-COVID-19.”

As expected, the survey found that the women entrepreneurs responding to the survey lead enterprises while managing family responsibilities with 76% having children in their home. The pandemic affected female employers to the extent that COVID-19 negatively affected their revenues by 82%.

More than two-thirds reported that they had either reduced their own salaries or stopped paying a salary to themselves; and as employers had to make several changes to their staffing. Over half (58%) froze new hires, 41% reduced staff hours and wages, and a half laid off staff (22% laid off permanently and 26% temporarily).

Despite this, South Africa’s women entrepreneurs expressed optimism about their revenue outlook for the remainder of 2021, with 76% of respondents expecting to increase their revenues.

South Africa’s women entrepreneurs report a strong dedication to their communities and see a role for themselves and other women entrepreneurs in creating jobs.

The motivations in launching their business enterprises reflect their interests in supporting themselves and their families as well as their commitment to uplifting others.

Female franchisees lead by example

According to Pertunia Sibanyoni, FASA’s Chairperson and CEO of InspectaCar, the franchise business model is one that allows anyone to get into business for themselves but not by themselves and more women are finding a business home in the franchise world and paving the way for others to do the same.

“As the country celebrates Women’s Month this August, it is encouraging to see how many strong women are heading up franchises or are successful franchisees – a figure that stood at over 30% in the 2019 FASA survey.”

Lindy Barbour, Director of The Franchise Firm believes that franchising offers a relatively low-risk barrier to entry, especially for women starting out as entrepreneurs.

“The benefits of skills transfer and the ongoing support of the franchisor make it far more attractive than pursuing an independent start-up. Add to that the fact that women set very high standards for themselves and are generally more detail-orientated, and you have a formula for success.”

Collaborating with FASA and Absa, Elana Koral of Franchise Coaches, a sponsor of the conference, believes that the focus should be on what the future holds for this phenomenal business format that has the potential to transform the economic landscape of Africa.

Koral finds that a company that is able to pivot and adapt easily is well primed to make it in Africa.

“There could be service franchises or education franchises for example where, as a result of COVID-19, people have changed buying patterns and preferences. There is also an opportunity for new types of franchises to service the market that would have wide appeal. Mobile operations have become popular ranging from professional services such as mobile physiotherapists and care-giving to mobile dog groomers and laundry services, etc.”

The importance of franchising over the past forty years can be seen in many of the banks with dedicated franchise divisions, as franchises have always proved to be more resilient and successful than start-ups, according to James Noble, Head of Wholesale, Retail and Franchise for Absa Business Banking, sponsor of FASA’s Franchising in Africa virtual conference.

“As bankers, we have always worked closely with franchise brands, are able to audit their growth and ensure that new franchisees coming into their systems are well supported and are set up with all the necessary financial supports to be successful. The franchise industry, like many others, faces challenges in the various business categories that make up the sector. But the challenges forced businesses to think outside of the box and to become smarter at delivering their products and services, fast-tracking their e-Commerce strategies with online sales platforms and finding new avenues for growth.”

Weighing in on how to move forward are key women representing the organisations and associations at the forefront of the recovery and future growth of the South African economy.

These include Neo Momodu – Executive: Legal, Regulatory & Sustainability for the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa,  who is using her skills in developing policies and strategies for engaging and lobbying both government and a broad range of stakeholders, to weigh in on the effects of COVID-19 and the recent riots and looting.

Also sharing in the recovery strategy will be Jacki Mpondo-Hendricks, the first Chief Executive Officer at the South African United Business Confederation (SAUBC) who heads up the non-profit, non-racial, business and economic confederation that represents cross-cutting business interests in South Africa.

Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA), a vocal crusader for the survival of the restaurant industry, will share her sector’s challenges and changes.

Participating in FASA’s virtual conference and giving a global perspective will be some leading international businesswomen, including:

  • Ada Osakwe, Founder of Agrolay Ventures &The Nuli Juice Company and the Forbes Africa Business Woman of the year 2021, is an award-winning entrepreneur, investor and passionate African development advocate with experience in private equity investing, development finance, public policy and startup venture-building.
  • Nonhlanhla Kasonde-Van Den Broek, Executive Coach, Development Activist and Serial Entrepreneur, spent a decade working in international development and international finance globally with the United Nations and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB & Malaria before returning to Zambia to pursue her purpose and desire to contribute to her country’s economy and the wider African development agenda.
  • Kika Wise of Kika Stretch studios, just one of three African American women franchisors in the country who built her franchise company on the hope of inspiring and empowering others and  is a businesswoman on a mission to educate millennials and other generations on how to preserve self and pursue franchising.
  • Andrea Bailey-Brown, CEO and Founder at Bailey Brown Business and Franchise Consulting and a Multi-franchise Owner at Jiffy Lube is a serial entrepreneur who combined her knowledge from all her business endeavours to help entrepreneurs grow sales and increase profitability in their business so that they can become financially independent.

FASA is taking the lead in the recovery by bringing together the franchise community, both locally and internationally to this virtual conference.

Over two days and running in two concurrent streams, franchising, its challenges and potential will be discussed, networked and rebooted to be ready when the world opens up again.

This is a great opportunity for potential and existing business owners to engage with local and international industry experts to gain a better understanding of what the challenges and opportunities are in these challenging but exciting times in which we find ourselves.

To book your seat or for further information visit

This article is supplied and sponsored by Absa.

Featured image: Absa



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