Paschal Agonsi

Pearl Maphumulo: How women can start and grow a great business

The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs report revealed that in South Africa women in early-stage entrepreneurial activity dropped by 15.7% in 2018. This means only 18.8% of business owners are female, compared to 46.4% in Ghana, which is ranked as the country with the most women-led companies in the report.

Pearl Maphumulo, MD of The Business Development Agency (Pty) Ltd, who spoke at a recent Intuit QuickBooks event, said after working with entrepreneurs from rural, township and urban areas, she discovered that many South African women did not seem to have as much confidence in themselves as business leaders, compared to men.

Maphumulo said this could potentially be attributed to a cultural stigma which needs to be broken.

“To do this, women venturing into entrepreneurship need to be supported not only on a technical level, but an emotional and psychological level, or else we risk missing the opportunity to inspire change and make a real impact in our country,” she said.

To assist aspiring female entrepreneurs start and grow a business, Maphumulo provided pointers:

* Research the market: Instead of duplicating something in an already over saturated market, think of ways to do what you do differently.

* Always continue to learn: When I started out as an entrepreneur, I didn’t have any formal education in entrepreneurship. However, I committed to attend relevant conferences, borrow books, join online workshops, apply for industry association opportunities, and sponsored programmes to develop myself. There’s so much available, equip yourself.

* Manage your finances wisely: It’s one of the most critical aspects in running a successful business. However, seldom do entrepreneurs have the funds to hire dedicated finance personnel or outsource an accountant.

Key for any SME is to invest in comprehensive accounting software, such as QuickBooks. This can assist in providing real-time insights for making decisions and managing cash flow.Another common mistake is failing to separate your business and personal finances, so be intentional in equipping yourself with this knowledge, it’ll save you many headaches.

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