The growth of high scale African businesses run by women is on the rise. More women are entering previously perceived male dominated sectors and climbing the proverbial career ladder much faster than before. There is a growing awareness and adoption of entrepreneurship and this is driving the wave of change in corporate Africa today.
As we celebrate this year’s edition of International Women’s Day (IWD), the world needs more voices to contribute to the achievement of gender equality in order to tackle economic exclusion, discriminatory financial systems, limited participation in political and public life, lack of access to education, poor retention of girls in schools and discriminatory cultural practices and norms which limit women. This is the reason why this year’s IWD theme is “Each for Equal”; each person has a responsibility to make sure a future of equal opportunities is within reach.
Join the celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) with these steps:
Participate in Events and Network with Other Female Professionals
For entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to find and network with female businesswomen and professionals who share similar experiences.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re just looking to expand your circle, it is a good idea to connect with female business owners this period. Several organisations hold events that focus on bringing women together during the celebration, and researching the top industry players in your field, or even beyond your area of interest, can help you forge networks that could be beneficial later.
If you cannot be physically present at these events, you can also network by participating in the groups, forums and online and on social media.
Lend your Time: Mentor other Professionals
If you are more established in your business/career, consider becoming a mentor to female entrepreneurs. Growing a business requires a wealth of knowledge and navigating local business environments can be a hassle for women who may know nothing or very little about what the business environment is really like.
Women find it harder to establish strong mentorship relationships and this sometimes hinders business growth.
Sharing your knowledge and encouraging entrepreneurs you mentor with a lot of understanding, empathy and a positive tone is essential to building female entrepreneurs who do not back down in the face of challenges.
Female entrepreneurship in Africa will improve as more young women see relatable figures in top positions as more successful female entrepreneurs and organisations continue to progress and contribute to the eco system.
You can begin your mentorship journey by volunteering to be a mentor on the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, or by signing up as a mentor on tefconnect.com and sharing your knowledge with entrepreneurs who may need it.
Partner with a Female-Owned Entrepreneurs and Businesses
Don’t shy away from partnering with a female entrepreneur without good reasons. Find ways to partner with other businesses that are owned by women. Do include women in speaking opportunities on panels and as thought leaders in industries.
When working with women, paying women equally, respecting their opinions, and respecting their authority as a leader goes a long way to ensure that the bias against individuals based on their gender is kicked out.
Give Female Entrepreneurs Opportunities to Thrive
There are internal self-limiting factors which hinder women from seeing progress in business. While men are usually conditioned to be competitive, to be leaders, to be assertive, girls and women are socialised to play a more passive role in society and usually end up not being able to articulately to ask for what they want.
Taking a step further this International Women’s Day, and after, to offer an opportunity to a female entrepreneur when they need it will ensure that more women excel in the workplaces and businesses.
If you know someone who can help a female entrepreneur, make the introduction. New contacts are extremely valuable to business owners. You may have someone in your network who can offer a female business owner the kind of resources they need for their.
Female entrepreneurs should also celebrate their little victories as a big deal instead of focusing solely on the big win. Celebrating little wins can prevent you from becoming demotivated and giving up on your goal.
Donate to Organisations Dedicated to Women’s Development
By supporting organisations that empower women, success can be achieved even faster. Volunteer by donating money, resources and time to organisations that empower women to excel.
By supporting women and women-owned businesses, you not only help the entrepreneur, you help to ensure that women all across the continent have access to better lives.
By following these steps this International Women’s Day, you can contribute to breaking down the barriers women face and also by listening and reflecting on issues that arise from conversations that impact women and the society at large. With collective effort, countries become more prosperous when women and women-led businesses are enabled to function at their fullest potential.