Despite a number of unique challenges, increasingly women are making their mark in South Africa's competitive small business arena. And the fact that sub-Saharan Africa currently has the highest growth rate in female-run businesses in the world, is exciting news for future entrepreneurs.
"While theidea of raising capital can be daunting,” says Janeesha Regubeer, area manager at South African small and medium enterprise (SME) financier, Business Partners Limited, “there are ways to work around a lack of funding by consolidating your resources, analysing your skillset and finding a niche market that you can service, or a unique challenge that you can solve.”
In this article Regubeer explores three practical business idea options that aspiring women entrepreneurs can use to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey.
Social media management
According to the SA Social Media Landscape 2022 study by World Wide Worx, just under 50% of adult South Africans accessed a social network in 2021, with the most popular platforms being Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
“There are three major components of the business of social media marketing: content creation, paid advertising and community management,” says Regubeer, “and the best part about building a social media management business is that all three of these components require very little formal training, which makes entry to this area relatively easy.”
Many of the major social media networks have native content creation suites, so even amateurs can create videos and digital content. Advertising on social media is also fairly intuitive, and there are lots of online tutorials that can guide you through the process. Community management is particularly important for big brands that receive many complaints, suggestions and questions on social media. For these brands, interacting with their customer base on socials has serious reputational implications – which can form the basis of a value proposition for a social media management business.
Online fashion boutique
“E-commerce in South Africa has been on a steady incline over the last decade and experienced a boom during the pandemic years,” says Regubeer. “Now, with social media channels introducing native platforms and functions that allow shoppers to buy products and services online, the digital shopping landscape is evolving.”
The social commerce trend has also taken off in new and exciting ways in South Africa, where many entrepreneurs are now selling vintage and second-hand clothing on social media.
“If you’re someone who has a background in fashion design or an eye for fashion,” she says, “this is the space to be in right now. You could set up an online boutique offering a mix of vintage and new fashion, supported by engaging social media content. Promoting and selling sustainable fashion also presents a great opportunity to help shape the fashion industry of the future, as well capitalise on conscious consumerism trends.”
Affiliate marketing programme
“If you’re digitally savvy and you’re looking to build a business that will allow you to work from anywhere in the world, affiliate marketing may be the answer you’re seeking,” adds Regubeer.“Affiliates are usually online users who own digital real estate in the form of a blog or a social media profile with a following that is of particular interest to niche brands.”
As an affiliate, you will essentially partner with a brand or business and add links and advertisements to your website or social media profile that advertise a product or service. If a user clicks on the link and ends up making a purchase on your partner’s website, you will be paid a portion of the proceeds.
“If you’re a health fundi, you could collaborate with healthy food brands, supplement vendors and sportswear brands. And if beauty is more your thing, you could partner with skincare and makeup brands to increase their market share in the wellness industry. As marketers have claimed, affiliate marketing is a great way to make money while you sleep.”
As we celebrate Women’s Month in South Africa, it is important for women entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities to start their own business and create multiple income streams. At the same time, we appeal to financiers to support women entrepreneurs in their journeys by providing the required finance,” concludes Regubeer.
About Business Partners Ltd
Business Partners Limited (Business Partners Ltd) is a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium owner-managed businesses in South Africa and selected African countries. The company actively supports entrepreneurial growth by providing financing from R500,000 to R50 million, specialist sectoral knowledge, business premises and added-value services for viable small and medium businesses. Since establishment in 1981, Business Partners Ltd has provided business finance worth over R21.5 billion in over 72,000 transactions facilitating over 671,000 jobs. Business Partners Ltd was named the 2019 Gold winner in the SME Bank of the Year – Africa category at the Global SME Finance Awards*. Visit www.businesspartners.co.za for more information.
*Business Partners Ltd has had remarkable results within the SME segment.