Somewhere in Africa, a woman just struggled for excellence. But what are the common challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. While Africa claims the uppermost growth rate of female-run businesses in the world, according to the World Bank, women continue to face challenges that are because of their gender. From social to financial barriers, we take a look at some of the hurdles that women in the business industry have to overcome on their road to success. It is also likely that her entrepreneurial journey will not be an easy one, simply because of her gender. So, we are here to talk about the key challenges women entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them.
1. Limited access to funding
The struggle to fund business is an issue that many entrepreneurs are familiar with, however this downside is even more evident to female businesspersons. Insufficient financial support is among the greatest hindrances for women Entrepreneurs looking to start female-owned businesses to the next level in Africa. While research reveal that women are better at managing their credit than men, the former still find it harder to obtain funding than the latter. African Development Bank did a research and found that the financing gap for women in Sub-Saharan Africa is approximately above US $20 billion, and younger women Entrepreneurs struggle the most. A way that women can use to overcome this issue is by working to get more female investors involved in supporting one another. They can do this by looking to not only inspire and encourage female investors, but to grow and support other female entrepreneurs through both funding and strategic educational workshops. For the necessary capital to be raised female entrepreneurs for their businesses they have to learn to ask for exactly what they need, even if that means requesting more than what they want.
2. Defying social expectations
Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario when one walks into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When female business owners talk business with other primarily male business owners, it can be discomforting. Being respected as a woman in a field which is dominated by men can be a big challenge.
In this type of environment, women might feel as though they want to espouse a stereo typically male attitude toward business that is being aggressive, competitive, and sometimes exceedingly harsh. But successful women in business trust that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above predetermined expectations. Be who you are, and have confidence in who you are,” You made it to the point you are now through hard work and perseverance, but most significantly, you are there.
3. Struggling to be taken seriously
Here and there, most women Chief Executive Owners find themselves in a male dominated industry which they feel it does not want to acknowledge their leadership role. “Some of the external factors that you have to fight as a woman include getting paid what you’re owed, being taken seriously, and being treated with respect. There’s also the challenge of being seen as the boss, and being seen as a subject matter expert. This is especially tough when you are a young woman of color”.
To overcome this, women have to learn to build their confidence and overcome their negative self-talk. Those negative comments that have built up in your head may stop you from reaching your full potential. To combat them, women have to join a variety of women entrepreneur groups. These groups provide mentors and peers to can inspire you, hit you with reality checks on your capabilities and successes and help you grow and learn from their outside perspectives and experiences.
4. Lack of a support network
As a businessperson, the significance of having a guider cannot be exaggerated. Budding a business needs a constant decision-making, and an adviser aids as the practical guide that one requires in order to come up with better decisions and avoid making mistakes. Having a healthy support network is vital for business success, so it is no shock that forty eight percent of female originators report that a lack of available mentors limits their professional growth. Knowing where to find the right support network isn’t always easy. There scarce good places to start include female-focused networking events as well as online forums and clusters created specifically for ladies in business. Once you find your network of supporters, don’t be afraid to ask for what you really need from them. Ask often and be clear about what you need. People are more likely to jump in if you are specific about what you need them to do and if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
5. Self-limiting Factors
Failure is a very real likelihood in any business field. It is said that the limiting fear of failure has a lot to do with how women are raised. There are internal self-limiting factors. This has a lot to do with how they were socialized as girls and young women. Different cultures in Africa, women were not raised to be leaders, to be assertive, to ask for what they want, to understand their value and to understand the kind of impact they can make. There is an understanding that some beliefs women hold about their own potential stems from our cultural, historical, and cultural taboos, a force of African female entrepreneurs that lead with deep vision and high level of self-awareness has ascended up.
To overcome these self-limiting factors, women need to celebrate their little victories like every sale, every win, every positive contact. Those are the things that keep discouragement at bay. Women should fight through the times of self-doubt that every business owner face. Women should not only focus on the perfect part before taking a big promotion or starting their own businesses. Failure too should not be used as an excuse for relinquishing your goals.
6. Balancing business and family life
Entrepreneurs that have families have dual responsibilities to their businesses and to their families, so finding ways to devote time to both is key to truly achieving that elusive work-life balance.
I do assume the culture of labor is changing to allow women to be more flexible, which is a good thing. But being your own boss will possibly always allow more freedom than being employed by someone else.