Gender Deep Dive: Building Women's Businesses in South African Township Economies
A View on Intersectional Approaches to Entrepreneurial Support
In November 2021, ANDE published its South Africa Township Economy Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot (Ecosystem Snapshot). This publication provides an entrepreneurial ecosystem mapping of the financial and non-financial support available to township-based entrepreneurs, as at November 2021. The publication covers research on the townships of the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Gauteng provinces regarding, among other information, the types of support and investment instruments available, and the types of stakeholder interest.
This Gender Deep Dive takes a closer look specifically at the support provided to women entrepreneurs in township economies. It is based on desktop research, data from the Ecosystem Snapshot, and 15 in-depth key informant interviews with entrepreneurial support organisations (ESOs) that intentionally seek to improve the lives of women— either as consumers, employees, business leaders, or suppliers and distributors. We asked them about their reasons for focusing on women, their approaches used in doing so, and which approaches have worked particularly well.
This report finds that women entrepreneurs in township economies face a double set of intersecting— and mutually reinforcing —challenges. On the one hand, there are challenges due to them being women. This includes the multiple competing demands on women’s time, various prejudices and biases against women business owners, and the challenges inherent in women-dominated sectors, which are often less high growth than men dominated sectors. On the other hand, there are the challenges inherent in being based in a township economy, with lower levels of infrastructure and service provision, higher levels of insecurity and crime, and the business challenges of operating in a relatively low-income context.
To adequately respond to the realities of township-based women entrepreneurs, the approaches taken by ESOs need to take into consideration both sets of challenges . This report categorises the different approaches observed among ESOs according to which set(s) of challenges they take into consideration.
This report accompanies the ANDE South Africa Township Ecosystem Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot.
Renée is a Portfolio Lead with Value for Women. She oversees, manages and delivers a global portfolio of innovative gender and business projects, working with impact investors, businesses, and entrepreneurial ecosystem actors. Renée brings to her work a background in financial and digital inclusion, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, along with a passion for supporting women’s empowerment. She has previously worked with Cenfri as Project Lead for the i2i Facility in South Africa, as well as with Divitel in the Netherlands.
Value for Women is a global advisory services firm with a mission to promote women’s participation and leadership in business, finance and investment around the globe, with a focus on emerging markets.
Shoshana is an Advisor – Knowledge Management & Communications at Value for Women. Shoshana oversees product conceptualization and technical writing for the organization's publications, ranging from research and evaluation reports to case studies and podcasts. Shoshana brings over 15 years of international development experience in both leadership and field positions across sectors, notably with the Inter-American Development Bank, Danone, Chemonics, TechnoServe and local non-governmental organizations.