In the words of music icon Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter; who run the world? Girls! Women’s month means that we take some time to reflect and celebrate the strides that women are making in all spheres of life. Despite the gender pay gap and discrimination in the workplace, women contribute almost 50% to South Africa’s GDP.
Women not only contribute substantially to the economy despite structural challenges but also provide employment opportunities for other women. Being an entrepreneur presents many challenges for women, but the South African digital landscape gives ample opportunity to start and grow your own business from the comfort of your home. We will be profiling South African women entrepreneurs who overcame challenges to start their own businesses.
Although there are ample challenges when navigating the world as a woman, we also want to shine a light on women who are creating space for themselves in the often cut-throat world of business. These are the women who break boundaries and take up space by becoming their own bosses and building legacies.
You’ve probably heard the name Siki Msuseni somewhere on the internet; be it on Instagram or Twitter. Part of the first wave of fashion bloggers in Cape Town, Influencer Marketing and PR Specialist, Siki Msuseni has always been ahead of the curve. She hung up her fashion blogger/influencer gloves and used her digital marketing background as well as qualifications to pivot into starting her own Public Relations agency. Her company Amplified PR works with lifestyle brands as well as with Micro-influencers.
Siki’s struggle with flexible working hours and salary advancement at her last job, prompted her to evaluate her career trajectory, and this is what she discovered:
‘The day I found out how much I generate for the business and how much I took home at the end of the month that was the day I started my exit strategy of starting my agency.’
And a few years into running her successful PR and Digital Marketing Company, it’s safe to say that she made the right call.
When a young professional couple found themselves struggling to find time to manage their household, while working long hours, SweepSouth was born. Aisha Pandor and her husband started their business as an answer to rendering speciality housekeeping services, and the platform quickly changed to a business that not only helps with cleaning services but provides consistent employment for many women.
The company’s mission is:
‘To create happy homes by providing dignified, flexible work at decent pay to our SweepStars; and a hassle-free and reliable service that gives time back to our clients.’
The company helps provide employment, funeral cover and life policies to women as well as upskilling them and exposing them to job opportunities. The beauty of the platform is that the employees can choose the location and the hours that they are available for work – the flexibility is unmatched for single mothers. On the other hand, the clients also get to choose the hours when they need the services without committing to employing someone full-time.
The Freelance Creative Director and Strategist, Talya Goldberg, is one of the OG lifestyle bloggers in Cape Town. Her knack for visual communication and experience in digital marketing culminated in her being a co-founder of the photo printing business Nifty250. In the world of digital image repositories like Instagram, Nifty250 brought back the nostalgia of having physical Polaroid prints.
The company also provides frames, wall art, collages and custom printing. When asked about starting a business in South Africa Talya is quoted saying:
‘It’s so easy to start your own business here (South Africa), you have to 100% believe in the idea and the vision behind it, and then comes the hard part where you have to execute your idea well. No cutting corners! That’s what takes a whole lotta love and time.’
Noli Mini is making bank in the beauty industry with her company Relax Spas. The beauty mogul used her nearly 20 years’ experience in the beauty industry as a Launchpad to start her own luxury spa in-room service. What started as a ‘mobile spa service’ going to different hotels and offering beauty treatments has evolved into her setting up bases at various hotels that include two spa suites and guest houses. Relax Spas also provide services to corporates on wellness days at offices.
She will also be launching her beauty training institute to empower young women and create work opportunities.
Noli stresses how crucial research is and to know what you’re getting yourself into in an interview with entrepreneur.com:
‘Passion and a fun business idea are important, but you also need to understand the basics of launching a company. How easy will it be to develop your product or idea? How will you market it? What sort of financial controls will you put in place? What regulations must you comply within your industry? Are any licences required? What are the labour laws? These are all questions you need to be able to answer before launching.’
Stacy Brewer and co-founder Ryan Harrison are the founders of SPARK Schools in South Africa; a revolutionary school that makes quality, private schooling more accessible. The network of independent private schools introduced a model of education where learners split time between digital content and classroom interaction at affordable prices. The traditional private school model in South Africa is built on an exclusionary foundation, and it’s inspiring to see institutions like SPARK rejecting that elitist mindset.
Co-founder and CEO Stacy Brewer chose to explore the dire education system in South Africa for her thesis, and those findings were the springboard for her to delve deeper into a new low-cost private school model. She states in a radio interview with 702.co.za:
‘Textbooks have been completely removed from our learning model.’
The removal of textbooks is significant because it drives the cost-effectiveness of the school. The private school provides a blended learning model at government school prices.
South Africa is ripe with opportunities in the online/e-commerce space. The great thing is that you can start where you are with what you have. All you need is a reliable internet connection to register your domain, build your website and go live with your business – it’s all about just starting with what you have.