In South Africa various issues contribute to the subjugation of women which include the sense of security, safety and the potential to set up a small business which is undermined by customary law among others. Institutionalised and domestic patriarchy stands as a threat for women to access self-empowerment programs in society. Women, particularly in the rural areas, have little access to empowerment organisations or programs because the very nature of such organisations and programs are largely considered to be not “African.” However, African women around the world have and continue to make great impact in the world of business and social entrepreneurship. Regardless of the marginalisation of African women around the world, there are some great contributions that should encourage us.
Natalie Bitature is a Ugandan business woman. She developed environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts. Street vendors in Uganda are not regulated and do not pay tax, therefore their businesses are seen essentially as illegal; Natalie realised that the informal economy is where a lot of individuals are presently able to do profitable business and undertook to help co-create opportunities with the vendors. She came up with an innovation to try and make the industry more desirable, profitable and acceptable to the government. She developed ‘Musana’ carts. These Carts saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions each and advances the health of cities by reducing pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves. The innovation aims to give dignity to street vendors and make their job recorgnised as legitimate by the government.
Sherry Sims is a career strategist and a Speaker. She is the founder of Black Career Women’s Network, an organisation that started as a LinkedIn group providing career advice to black professional women. She has worked in the Human Resources Industry as Corporate Recruiter and HR Generalist. Sherry expanded the platform and it became a national organisation. The organisation now consists of mentors, coaches and experts to help black women in different industries with career development opportunities. This platform was originally created as a response to the lack of access to other professional black women for peer support according to Sherry. She started by sharing her experiences and career advice on the online group and now offers these services on a much more intimate platform. Sherry does not only provide career advice but a holistic package of services that include motivational talk, coaching, mentoring, workshops and training. The strategy aims to offer black professional women a platform to advance their careers by obtaining the services offered by the Black Women’s Network.
Yeigo Communications is an organisation in which Rapelang Rabana is a founding partner . Rapelang Rabana is an African woman from Gaborone, Botswana. She studied at the University of Cape Town and completed a Bachelor of Business Science with Honours in Computer Science. Yeigo Communications is a business that offers mobile VoIP solutions. It specialises in software conceptualisation, development and distribution within the mobile, web and cloud computing industry. The organisation aims to address the problem of cost of communication for the regular user. Rapelang and her co-Founder realised that high cost in communication had become a problem and that the ‘please call me’ was also not helping with effective and sufficient communication; they decided to do something about it. They realised that the internet is a great tool in communications and it has great potential to change communication forever by the wholesome variety of the different methods of communication and interaction online.
In 2006 they launched their first mobile VolP application which was published in 2017 which was among the first in the world. Their consumers benefited from the application by being able to access services, contribute to the economy and grow businesses. Rapelang choose to make an impact by providing cost-effective communication by means of mobile VoIP, which made instant messaging and social media, portals of information, educational applications and community forums available to many of her customers. Rapelang’s company provides cheaper services. She realises that in her industry it is all about the consumer – the society that will benefits from “better access to services, from services becoming more affordable being more able to contribute to the world economy and improve and grow businesses.”
The major stakeholders are young African men and women who have recently graduated and are faced with long-term unemployment prospects, business people who are just starting up their enterprises, community groups that seek development in their area and anyone who seeks access to educational, informative and entertaining or business opportunities. These stakeholders are from African communities seeking development for themselves or the larger society. The stake holders are interested in acquiring affordable communication tools, contributing to the economy and growing businesses.
Many African women have had great impact on the continent and world-wide. In the mist of rape cases, femicide (which is eating up South African women), and institutionalised subjugation of women it is also important to elevate the accomplishments, contributions and competencies of African women.