Supporting female entrepreneurs and gender inclusion in tech spaces in South Africa: 

Local networks have found the biggest challenges that female entrepreneurs face when starting and growing a business are access to support structures and role models, and lack of funding, according to an informal 2018 survey conducted across Future Females and Startup Grind communities.

With the Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate for South African women at just 9%, there is a critical need to improve gender inclusion and increase available skills in the market. Historically, despite high volumes of applications to the Future Females Business School, only 64% of applicants could afford to join the programme.

Programme

The UK-South Africa Tech Hub partnered with Future Females in March 2019 to launch a twelve week virtual programme, as part of its greater mission to support gender inclusion in digital spaces.

The programme equips local female entrepreneurs with the skills needed to start and grow successful and sustainable tech-led businesses. By deploying tech to tackle local issues these startups drive positive change in their communities, as well as generate wealth for their female founders.

Tumelo and Pheladi at the Future Females Business School

Tumelo and Pheladi at the Future Females Business School

In the first cohort, 50 female entrepreneurs with tech-enabled businesses were selected through an online application followed by a one to one consultation to validate their business plan. Successful participants joined the three month virtual incubator programme which offers various skills-development seminars (ranging from writing an effective business plan to building an online presence).

The programme features guest experts, including serial entrepreneurs, executives and coaches, who cover important personal development topics (including how to overcome fear of failure and how to uncover your true passion).

Participants at the Future Females Business School

One of the goals of our UK-South Africa Tech Hub is to strengthen and enrich existing value chains in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s been exciting seeing the growth of the Future Female programme in the market and how it has positively impacted so many female entrepreneurs, equipping them with the skills needed to run successful, tech enabled businesses.

Shirley Gilbey, Director of the UK-South Africa Tech Hub


Tech Hub leadership

The UK-South Africa Tech Hub provided full and partial bursaries for both the Future Females Business School and membership programmes (which offer access to offline content).

Through supporting local female entrepreneurs to scale and grow, the Hub promotes inclusive growth of the digital ecosystem in South Africa. In this way, together with other Prosperity Fund interventions with a marked focus on gender and social inclusion, the Hub is supporting underserved communities to gain meaningful employment and/or embark on their own entrepreneurial journey.

Looking to the future

Participants at the Future Females Business School

Upon completion of the programme, 70% of participants had successfully registered their business. This percentage is likely to increase thanks to post-programme support, which consists of twelve months access to the programme content, inclusion in the Facebook private member community, and monthly goal setting and accountability workshops.

Following the success of the first cohort, the UK-South Africa Tech Hub scaled up the partnership, funding a mix of full and partial bursaries to support a further 70 women for the Future Females Business School and a further 200 women through the Future Females online membership programmes. This second cohort will graduate on 13 December 2019.

Challenge

10% TEA rate for South African women

Solution

  • Future Females Business School in partnership with the UK-South Africa Tech Hub

  • 3 month virtual incubator

  • 12 month post-programme support

Impact

  • Total of 320 women supported

  • 120 part of FFBS

  • 200 part of FF online membership programme

  • 35 newly registered businesses (and counting)

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