Female entrepreneurs are increasingly reshaping the global entrepreneurial landscape. According to the ‘Women-owned Businesses’ report by the Center for Women in Business, which analyses female entrepreneurs in the US, there is currently a growing economic phenomenon of self-employed women entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Gugu Mjadu, executive general manager: marketing at Business Partners Limited, says that the same trend is emerging in South Africa, with the latest GEM South Africa 2014 report revealing that opportunity-motivated total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) amongst women has increased from 64% in 2013 to 71% in 2014.
“South African women are increasingly starting small enterprises from the comfort of their own homes. While some of these women may be required to seek self-employment for financial necessity, many are being driven by the desire of flexibility and the independence to spend more time with their children.”
She says that this has also given rise to the coined phrase, the ‘momtrepreneur’, which is a term used to refer to stay-at-home mothers who have established their own businesses. “These women are increasingly finding ways to express their interests and creativity, and while doing so, they earn an income while also having the opportunity to spend time with their children.
“Some of our female clients and service providers who have taken this entrepreneurial route have expressed more satisfaction in their work as they now have the freedom to dictate how they split their day between work and their personal life. One example is Claire Gatonby who started Research House in 2004, today a comprehensive research service facility, in a bid to be more involved in her children’s lives.”
With the rise of e-commerce, consumers are not only beginning to purchase goods online, but are also purchasing services from external providers via online platforms. Mjadu says that this in turn is leading to numerous opportunities for stay-at-home moms, who can now compete with larger companies. “This shift is driving the trend of the momtrepreneur as it is now simpler and easier to start and run a business from home. As the internet and technology evolves, so will the business possibilities.”
Being a momtrepreneur isn’t without its challenges though, say Mjadu. “Momtrepreneurs need to be able to balance the stress of managing motherhood while running a business, which can be demanding if not managed correctly.”
She adds that a strong work-life balance is especially important in this case. “Entrepreneurs can very quickly get wrapped up in the day-to-day running of a business, especially if they are the only employee, and responsible for everything from admin to sales and implementation. When the entrepreneur is a mother, and has children and a household to look after, balance is even more of a challenge.
“Momtrepreneurs should draw up a list of goals both for their business and home life, and keep them top of mind to remain focused. A certain amount of time for family, friends and self-indulgence should also be set and stuck to where possible.”
It is also important to remember that it isn’t always possible to pursue your journey alone, says Mjadu. “Running a business is hard work, and can mean working more hours than a regular day job. Lean on family for support and join networking groups in your area. Not only will these events help you network with likeminded women, but can also aid in developing your business and industry knowledge, as well as allow you the opportunity to possibly meet new clients and suppliers,” concludes Mjadu.