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Women are shaking up the e-commerce industry in South Africa

The Heavy Chef E-commerce Entrepreneur Education Report reveals that the growth of e-commerce in South Africa has been accelerated by five years since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Interestingly, it is women leading the charge.
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The Heavy Chef Foundation's report shows that 63% of all e-commerce companies in South Africa are started by women. But like all South African entrepreneurs, they too need support to keep growing.

40 years ago, the idea of women managing their own business seemed ambitious. Today, this is no longer the case — rising equality, technology, and e-commerce are making it possible for women entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. And manage them as well!
Heavy Chef E-commerce Entrepreneur Education report

E-commerce works well for first-time entrepreneurs

E-commerce presents fewer barriers to entry, making it a viable option for entrepreneurs starting out. It’s also fairly easy (and more affordable) to set up an e-commerce website, compared to a physical store. These cost-savings can be passed on, meaning products can be offered at lower prices. It is also possible to connect with – and find new – customers via digital channels.

South Africa provides a unique e-commerce opportunity

According to the report, since the pandemic, 68% of South African consumers are shopping more online. It’s projected that Africa’s e-commerce value will quadruple by 2030. This presents a unique and exciting opportunity for women in e-commerce to capitalise on this growth. In fact, payment specialist Payfast reports registering more than 25,000 new merchants between March and October last year, far surpassing any previous peak periods.

For this potential to be fully realised in South Africa, women must be able to access the necessary skills, knowledge, and technology they need to build online businesses.
Heavy Chef E-commerce Entrepreneur Education report

There is no question that women are influential in the e-commerce marketplace. According to Forbes, women drive 80% of consumer purchases and these online purchases, in turn, have a positive impact on the economy. But we need to make it easier for women to sell online as well. One way to do this is to support initiatives that recruit and equip women with the skills they need to use online tools for e-commerce.

Entrepreneurs need a unique set of skills

According to the report, only 18% of e-commerce entrepreneurs know of or have attended a training programme about building an online business. To rectify this, Heavy Chef and xneelo have identified three ways to support the development of women e-commerce entrepreneurs in South Africa (the 3 M’s):

  1. Mentorship
    Provide e-commerce entrepreneurs with more opportunities to interact with and learn from early e-commerce innovators.

  2. Money
    Develop tailored learning programmes for e-commerce entrepreneurs - focusing on the unique needs of online sales and operations.

  3. Measurement
    Track the effectiveness of e-commerce learning programmes and communicate these insights back to the industry through a central data hub.

“If we can include more women in the ecosystem, we’ll see a much broader range of solutions coming out of it, that address issues at all levels of our economy.”
Aisha Pandor, CEO and co-founder of SweepSouth

It is an exciting time for women entrepreneurs to leverage the current growth of e-commerce in South Africa. With the right amount of support and education, anything is possible, as evidenced by these trailblazers.

As a brand that’s passionate about empowering entrepreneurs, xneelo is excited about the story of emerging women in e-commerce – and how we can support them as they grow.

The Heavy Chef E-Commerce Entrepreneur Education report was created by the Heavy Chef Foundation and xneelo to map out the learning needs of e-commerce entrepreneurs in South Africa.

“Xneelo is passionate about enabling South African entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge they need to create and grow their businesses. We’re proud to be associated with Heavy Chef and their community of entrepreneurs. We believe that every successful business creates a multiplier effect for society to thrive,” says xneelo CEO, Philip Delport.

To download a copy of the report visit

Xneelo provides reliable hosting for your business. With a stable network and 24/7 support, we ensure that your website stays up, stays fast and stays supported.

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