What do you want to be when you grow up? A typical question asked to many young people when starting a conversation. This time the question was addressed to my 14-year-old girl cousin.

Her response; “I want to be a businesswoman! I want to own a hospital! Be an inspiration to young girls just like Oprah”.

This was really an inspirational response that a young girl can dream bigger through watching role models in her own country and in the world.

Over the years, many South African women have taken over the task to change the narrative, take up space and become successful entrepreneurs. From business owners expanding their companies in the townships, to company directors working in South Africa’s biggest cosmopolitan hubs, more and more of South Africa’s women are leaning into the world of business.

To attest to this truth, recently, champagne brand Veuve Clicquot hosted a morning of crucial conversations with women to inspire and embolden successive generations of audacious female leaders in the country.

At the event, the Veuve Clicquot 2020 Barometer (second edition): International Women’s Entrepreneurship Barometer study was unveiled. The survey showed that of the 17 countries measured, South Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs.  The survey found that 54% of South African women consider themselves entrepreneurs first and foremost – the highest level of women entrepreneurship amongst countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Hong Kong that were measured.

Ninety percent of South African women entrepreneurs believe that to succeed they need the support of a network of women entrepreneurs. This is a definite positive for my young cousin as the future is strongly supported by other women. South Africa has an abundance of its own successful businesswomen that will leave a legacy for many young girls as a point of reference to be proud of.

The Veuve Clicquot 2020 Barometer (second edition) was conducted as the COVID-19 crisis exerted pressure on global cultures and economies, updated the status of women entrepreneurs across the world and has provided the community with a rare tool: a true understanding of the state of female entrepreneurship.

Led by chairperson Rapelang Rabana, the Bold Conversations by Veuve Clicquot experience took place with 50 live and 200 digital guests which saw passionate conversations amongst panellists of business leaders including Amanda Dambuza; a seasoned and highly regarded businesswoman, Chief Executive of Uyandiswa; a project management consulting firm she founded 8 years ago; Nthabi Taukobong who has extensive experience in interior design spanning over 20 years as one of the top interior designers in South Africa, she’s the founding member and managing director of Ditau Interiors and Mzamo Masito the Chief Marketing Officer for Google Africa. They unpacked and debated the findings of the latest survey, highlighting the following;

  • The majority of women (82%) and men (87%) who aren’t currently entrepreneurs are interested in becoming one … a trend that is rising.
  • Women entrepreneurship has increased since the 2018 study by 11%, yet mostly in lower revenue sectors.
  • 12% more women and 9% more men aspire to entrepreneurship in a country with high levels of entrepreneurship already.
  • 59% of women entrepreneurs report growing more confident in their business dealings, and 63% say they’re more professionally bold than before the COVID-19-19 crisis.
  • 90% of women entrepreneurs agree that a network of other women entrepreneurs is essential for women who want to become entrepreneurs and have support throughout the process of building their business.

Some of the amazing South Africa women entrepreneurs include;

DJ Zinhle a very successful DJ, music producer, who owns companies including Era By DJ Zinhle which sells stunning time pieces and eyewear; Jiyane Atelier which sells premium furniture, a partnership with an active wear company called This Girl Can and recently HAIR MAJESTY BY DJ ZINHLE, 15 premium Peruvian lace wigs. She also became the CEO of Boulevard Nectar Rosè after acquiring equity in the international sparkling wine beverage.

Jeanne Groenewald, award-winning businesswoman including Female Farmer of the Year (in 2006, 2014 and 2018), the 2010 CEO Most Influential Women in Business Award and Enterprising Women of the Year in 2019. Her business also scooped the 2014 Business of the Year Award. Jeanne Groenewald started Elgin Chickens, in 2002. Today, Elgin Free Range Chickens is the largest independent free-range chicken operation in South Africa. Groenewald, a trailblazer in the farming sector, adds: “I really believe that more women should consider the agricultural sector as a career, because women are nurturers and, as such, make the best farmers.”

Basetsana Kumalo’s life changed when she won the Miss South Africa title in 1994 as well as becoming the First Princess in the Miss World competition in the same year. She used these platforms wisely, making connections and cultivating a strong network with which she used to launch her professional career. She owns 50% partnership in Production Company, Tswelopele Productions who produced the lifestyle magazine show Top Billing for many years. The show is the longest-running entertainment and lifestyle programme in South Africa, broadcasting since 1992 until 2019.

Her current position is founder and CEO of Basetsana Woman Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, where she is focusing mainly in the resources, property, media, telecommunications and IT industries.

Basetsana Kumalo shares strategic advice for future female entrepreneurs:

“When you wake up each morning, you have to think of yourself as a brand and act accordingly, how well you do that will define the brand’s success. If you live the brand well, people start to believe in it and buy into it. Over the years, people have shown great confidence in the Bassie brand and that’s been really humbling.” – Basetsana Kumalo.

For more on  The Veuve Clicquot 2020 Barometer study click here and other inspiring South African women entrepreneurs, click here.

Additional sources: Veuve Clicquot International Women Entrepreneurship Barometer

Timeslive ; Quickbooks

Image credit: Instagram