According to Nimo Naidoo, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards, this theme is particular applicable to South Africa’s female entrepreneurs. “Female entrepreneurs signify a vast untapped source of innovation, job creation and economic growth in the country. Over the years of the competition, now in its 26th year, we have noticed a steady increase in female-owned businesses, which is extremely encouraging and we hope that this number continues to grow.”
Naidoo adds that while there may still be an economic gap between women and men, this gap is steadily narrowing. The International Labour Organisation estimates that today women entrepreneurs are increasingly starting businesses and that they now account for a quarter to a third of all businesses in the formal economy worldwide. She says that this statement is supported by the recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2013 Global Report which revealed that Sub-Saharan African rates of female early-stage entrepreneurship (TEA) are comparable to their male equivalents. “The gender distribution of TEA in South Africa is 12% and 9% for the percentage of adult and female population respectively,” says Naidoo.
Innovator of the Year® in the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® Competition, Mariaan du Plessis, co-founder and owner of Medical Nutritional Institute (Pty) Ltd, says that it is encouraging that female entrepreneurs are on a more even playing field. “The success of MNI is as of a result of a very compatible partnership with my business partner, Dr. Conrad Smith. In order to promote female entrepreneurship and reduce the gender gap in the work place it is important that female leaders and entrepreneurs are celebrated and presented as role models to aspiring female entrepreneurs.”