An Overview of the Development of Women as Entrepreneurs in South Africa

An Overview of the Development of Women as Entrepreneurs in South Africa

Women have become more involved in politics and decision-making in South Africa during the past twelve years, with 37% of our lawmakers and 43% of the national cabinet being female.

By getting more involved in SMMEs, women have gradually begun to expand their advantages in the economic sector.

Women business owners in South Africa, more often than not, take part in survivalist pursuits like sewing cooperatives, poultry farming, candle making, gardening, and handicrafts – also referred to as micro-enterprise projects. Often, they are jointly started by women’s community organizations that leverage women’s abilities in homemaking together with other domestic or income-generating tasks.

Female business owners contribute significantly to the social and economic health of their neighborhoods and communities. It is therefore crucial to ensure that there are equal opportunities for women in business and entrepreneurship and that women get access based on their merit rather than on their gender.

The Importance of Women Entrepreneurs in South Africa

South Africa’s historic economic policies have typically favored men, and women were disadvantaged in terms of access to financial services and credit, education and training, as well as ownership of property.

As a result, women’s empowerment has been a major objective of the South African government, which has set a goal of ensuring that women have equal access to and control over economic resources, productive assets, new technologies, and information; as well as political institutions and decision-making processes.

What Opportunities are there for Women Entrepreneurs in South Africa?

South Africa offers a range of opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and strong support is available to help them succeed.

1. Access to markets: South Africa has a large and diverse consumer market with a growing middle class. It provides opportunities for women entrepreneurs to sell their products and services to a wide range of customers.

2. Supportive government policies: The South African government has implemented some policies and initiatives to support women entrepreneurs, including the Women’s Enterprise Development and Support Program and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA). These programs provide access to finance, business development services, and mentorship to help women entrepreneurs succeed.

3. Growing sectors: South Africa has several growing sectors that offer opportunities for women entrepreneurs, including the tourism industry, the green economy, and the creative industries.

4. Strong civil society: South Africa has a strong civil society sector, with many organizations working to support women entrepreneurs and promote gender equality. These organizations provide valuable resources and support for women starting and growing businesses.

Benefits of Women Entrepreneurship Development Programs

Women’s entrepreneurship development programs can play a significant role in supporting economic growth and development and promoting gender equality and social inclusion.

1. Increased economic activity: By supporting women to start and grow their businesses, these programs can help to increase economic activity and job opportunities in communities and ultimately the country.

2. Greater diversity: Women-owned businesses can bring new perspectives and approaches to the market, leading to greater diversity in the business landscape. This can lead to more innovative products and services, driving economic growth.

3. Improved social and economic outcomes: Supporting women to start and grow their businesses can also have broader social and economic impacts. For example, women entrepreneurs may be more likely to hire other women, helping to close the gender pay gap and reduce poverty.

4. Greater resilience: By supporting a diverse range of businesses, including women-owned, the economy can become more resilient to shocks and changes. This can help to ensure long-term economic stability and prosperity.

Why Choose Seed Academy’s Women Entrepreneurship Development Program

At Seed Academy, we know that, more often than not, women turn to entrepreneurship out of necessity and often lack the business skills and expertise to grow & scale their businesses on their own.

In addition, women tend to be over-represented in tourism-related (accommodation, food services, entertainment, recreation) and manufacturing sectors, as well as in small/new businesses, making them highly vulnerable to economic shocks and global events such as the recent pandemic (GEM Women’s Entrepreneurship and Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) 2020/2021 reports).

Furthermore, women entrepreneurs and black-women entrepreneurs, in particular, are further constrained by social inequality, cultural barriers and limited access to resources.

As a result, Seed Academy is creating a new narrative for entrepreneurship in South Africa where women and youth entrepreneurs are builders & leaders of high-growth businesses that positively impact the economy and uplift communities. Unlike many entrepreneur development programs, our approach takes a holistic approach to the development of women entrepreneurs – building business skills alongside technical and social skills, while addressing psycho-social issues and the challenges women in the business face whilst also providing emotional and development support.


Women and gender equality are moral imperatives that cannot be ignored. While women have made many advances in the political, social, and economic world, there are still many more challenges ahead of them. Through public-private partnerships and development programs like those provided by Seed Academy, South Africa can empower women to equal status and level as men.