Women still face challenges not as common among their male counterparts. Here are four of those challenges and the solutions for overcoming them.
- Funding and training gaps
Studies consistently find that women-led businesses receive less outside funding than businesses led by men. For example, between 1997 and 2000, only 6% of total venture capital funds were invested into women-led businesses in the United States. In addition, only 1.3% of U.S. venture-backed companies between 1997 and 2011 have a female founder.
Solution: Women should focus on products and services that will produce a big return on their investments. Ensure that your business provides value to investors, it is important that those investing in your business will provide value, such as industry expertise, to you and not just capital.
- Government contracts
In Africa women owned businesses have fewer chances of securing government contracts or tenders. Studies have cited corruption amongst high ranking officials as the main cause.
Solution: While the numbers are still disappointing, women entrepreneurs can take strategic steps to earn more of the government contracts currently available. Governments need to have a policy on gender allocation of contracts. Women entrepreneurs should also get their business certified as woman-owned. This is necessary to do business with both public and private corporations.
- Work-life balance
While work-life balance is a challenge for both men and women, women can often feel more conflicted between work and family life due to social and cultural norms. Fortunately for women entrepreneurs, there are several ways to balance out the burden of owning a business and maintaining family and social life.
Solution: It can be difficult to fully shut off from work, and creating a work-life blend means that there is no “ideal” balance between the two to strive for. To find the best work-life blend, women entrepreneurs may need to learn to be comfortable delegating tasks and asking for help when necessary.
- Gender discrimination
Anecdotal evidence shows that women may not be taken seriously by investors and that they may not be seen as hard workers, due to socially reinforced expectations that women are the primary caregivers at home.
Solution: Being a woman doesn’t have to hold you back as an entrepreneur, but you may need to work harder and get creative to earn the respect of your male colleagues and contemporaries.
The future of female entrepreneurialism is certainly bright. Even though women may face unique challenges along their entrepreneurial journey, the rewards are worth the effort.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro