Women Entrepreneurs and the Funding Gap

Updated on 27 February 2018

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women entrepreneurs and the funding gap


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Women entrepreneurs continue to face a plethora of challenges in creating and growing their own businesses.

Sizakele Marutlulle, CEO and founder of Marutlulle & Co says this is no more evident than with raising funding in what continues to be male-dominated VC ecosystems.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), in Sub-Saharan Africa, the financing gap for women is estimated at over $20 billion.

Marutlulle has over 23 years experience in business leadership, brand building, innovation and people development. Prior to founding her company she was head of marketing at ABSA Africa and before then was CEO of Grey Advertising in South Africa. A former COO of SA Tourism, she received an MA Communication Sociology Degree in 2007 and is currently completing her PHD.

In 2017 she launched Fentrepreneurs, an initiative that aims to help women build bankable and scalable, future-fit businesses and offers solutions on how financial lenders can stop using a gender lens that disadvantages women.

She talks to SME South Africa about what’s holding women back and possible solutions. 

The gap

Female entrepreneurs have limited access to finance in comparison with their male counterparts, the unmet yearly financial needs for women-owned businesses worldwide is estimated to be between $260bn and $320bn.

The challenges women face accessing funding

Belittling remarks, debilitating info requests, credibility scrutiny, questions about balance between home and work, track record proof even when business is a first effort, etc.

The damage caused

It keeps them [women] from bringing their ideas to the world, it robs the world of diverse economic enterprises, it robs younger girls of role models to look up to, it maintains the male-friendly status quo.

How women have learnt to navigate this

With great difficulty – some use now funding, borrow at high interest from the few banks that are willing, borrow from relatives, mortgage their homes, worst cases just give up.

What’s needed to change the status quo

Throw out the rule book- and re-write the rules to lend for the changed landscape of enterprise, have more feminist women decision makers at lending institutions, craft new lending models and more women-focused lending institutions.

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