This article first appeared on My Newsroom and on the front page of the Citizen Newspaper in October 2015
A report on Women-Driven Entrepreneurship within the ICT sector reveals that gender relevant issues were of great concern to female entrepreneurs. While SMME and entrepreneurship within the ICT space is on the radar of government and the private sector’s developmental agenda, female-focussed mentorship and development is much needed.
Tashline Jooste, CEO at the Innovator Trust, an enterprise development organisation which focusses on accelerating black female owned ICT SMMEs, says that in order to address the concerns of women in ICT, there is a significant necessity for collaboration and alignment among women. “An ideal solution to this can be found in the incorporation of mentorship initiatives, targeted specifically at female entrepreneurs and business owners,” she explains. “With dedicated mentors involved, an SMME is more likely to succeed in the long term.”
The growth and success of many female-owned SMMEs can sometimes become stagnated due to various challenges and hurdles which may impact a business’s sustainability. Some hindrances are attributed to a lack of support and mentorship from fellow female entrepreneurs in the ICT space.
“Mentorship for female entrepreneurs is a critical piece of the puzzle for a well-functioning business,” says Jooste. “There is a serious need for female mentors in the ICT arena to offer support and guidance from a common ground perspective. Having a mentor who is empathetic and mutually understanding to female-specific scenarios in the workplace assists in creating motivated and committed female entrepreneurs who prosper and thrive in the ICT sector,” says Jooste.
Female mentorship offers various benefits to a new female entrepreneur such as compelling leadership, as well as support and encouragement with coping in a male dominated industry. Jooste says, “This requires the ongoing training and honing of skills and business processes, through constant guidance by the mentor. The process will provide the mentee with a library of methods and strategies that they will be able to draw on throughout their business career.”
According to Jooste, already successful female business leaders need to be encouraged to ‘pay it forward’ and get involved with supporting new female entrepreneurs. “By imparting knowledge and lessons learnt through experience to new females joining the industry, we can help ensure there are strong and innovative female entrepreneurs, adding to the foundation for a competitive economy,” concludes Jooste.