Mentorship programmes can lead to more women taking up the entrepreneurial banner

The most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report (GEM report 2013) suggests that in Sub-Saharan Africa almost as many women as men are starting new businesses. In South Africa the survey showed that in 2013, 58% of the country’s entrepreneurs were men and 42%, women

The report also suggested that, “female entrepreneurs are generally more satisfied: on average they exhibit higher scores on subjective well-being and work-life balance. Taking this information, a more even gender balance in entrepreneurship could imply a better work-life balance for society. For some economies it may therefore be fruitful to convince talented females considering starting a business to take the final hurdle, which for some may be a particularly difficult one. To this end other female entrepreneurs could play an important function, as a role model or mentor.”

Starting a business can be daunting, but The Hope Factory believes that having a mentor is a fundamental success factor for the success and sustainability of a small business.

The numbers around mentorship speak for themselves – research has shown that 80% of entrepreneurs who have mentors working alongside them survive long term, versus only 45% who don’t have a mentor. By ensuring that women who enter into entrepreneurial pursuits are supported through either formal or informal mentorship programmes, we can increase the success rate of women-owned businesses and then encourage more women to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits.

“Each entrepreneur who takes part in one of our programmes is assigned a business mentor who guides them in their entrepreneurial journey,” says Annie McWalter, CEO of The Hope Factory.

Some entrepreneurs have seen radical growth in a short time span. For example, PotsoMathekga, owner of Maggie’s Original Mageu, showed 51% growth in turnover and a 37% increase in profit after just eight months of mentorship. Another great example is Johanna Mashigo and her son, co-owners of Full Menu Catering. At the start of the programme they were operating at a 73% loss, and are now showing a 43% profit!

These are not the only success stories of The Hope Factory’s mentorship programmes. In 2013 alone The Hope Factory mentored 144 businesses in Port Elizabeth and 43 in Johannesburg seeing an increase of 65% in the profits of the Johannesburg businesses. Says Business Mentor BusiRaphekwane, “Seeing businesses grow from strength to strength is what motivates me in my daily role and most importantly seeing the entrepreneurs’ personal development.”

“Mentorship is so important for the long-term success of a business – and the development of the business owner. We believe that more mentorship programmes are needed to help encourage women to take up the entrepreneurial challenge,” concludes McWalter.


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