South Africa: Why Women Need Investor Strategies and Financial Literacy

In 2020, the Graça Machel Trusts' Women's Economic and Social Advancement (WESA) programme conducted a financial inclusion best Practice study, documenting the experiences of 60 women in the financial sector from South Africa and Zambia. The data published from this study reveals that women still need additional investor strategies to strengthen their business acumen related to financial literacy.

This study was commissioned by the African Woman Development Fund (AWDF) and was a one-year program initially designed pre-Covid-19 and had to adapt to the context of its impact in South Africa and Zambia and what women are experiencing. The study documented best practices by taking a micro-level deep dive into why women entrepreneurs are applying between the range of R450,000 and R7.5 million often fail than succeed.

On the supply side, the study found that in South Africa, out of the 39 women entrepreneurs surveyed, only 55% apply for government grants or aid. This was followed by 40% who sought out funds from friends and families 37% preferred to apply for financing through a bank in South Africa, government and government agencies, which were a focal point for most women entrepreneurs to seek finance for their businesses.

"60% of women surveyed in South Africa indicated they need additional investor readiness strategies and more understanding of investment trends. Women prefer not to take loans that they do not know and feel comfortable paying back in the context of Zambia is slightly a bit different picture. Women highlighted a lack of government support and often sought support funds from friends, followed by financing through the bank."

Another insight that the study revealed for both countries is that women's experiences in applying for finance were not always positive. The majority describes the process as tedious and challenging because of the red tape putting a lot of constraints on the small businesses. So, it becomes problematic and not easy. So, a women's experiences with applying to banks are similar to government that banks are cumbersome, very difficult, complicated, and use their banking history against them.

Women opened about the fact that there is a high cost required to access finance. So, the requirements and equitable turnaround process. The application is too long, and the burden of black comes at a high cost, so they felt very vulnerable putting their business context and ideas in the hands of investors.

Financial Inclusion Project Journey Case Study Documentary

Currently, more work is in the process to produce a documentary of a Case Study on Access to Finance for Women in South Africa and Financial Inclusion: Women Creating Wealth Zambian. This will contribute to advocating for women's financial inclusion by leveraging the digital economy to promote women's entrepreneurship and unlock resources for increased investment in women's businesses for growth. The documentary will spotlight women's businesses and share their journeys and experiences accessing finance in South Africa and Zambia. The documentary will also be used as a tool for advocacy to engage with key role-players within the financial inclusion ecosystem to advance women's financial inclusion.

Financial Inclusion Project- Zambia Grandma School New Campus

Around August and September 2021, the Trust's WESA Project Manager, Ms Tambudzai Ndoro, conducted radio interviews with Metro FM Thami Ngubei and SA FM Bridget Masina to overview the project. She said, "It is important to acknowledge that South Africa has experienced a noticeable increase in Financial Inclusion from 2004 to 2016. This indicates that overall, the financial inclusion initiatives adopted by the public and private sectors in South Africa are successful." She added that "South Africa's next step should be to finalize its national financial inclusion strategy, and ensure that it is effectively implemented by designation a designated financial inclusion champion. And adopt a gender lens approach in how financial inclusion can shift the way they traditionally serve women entrepreneurs, to be more responsive to their needs."

The strategic goal of the Trust's WESA programme is to build a women's movement that addresses the economic stagnation of African women and strengthens networks through knowledge management, capacity building and provision of technical assistance support for women to access financial products for their businesses.

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