Female entrepreneurs, the key to economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal.
The South African government has set a target of reducing unemployment by fifty percent by the year 2014. In order for government to achieve this target, more attention needs to be given to female entrepreneurs. This is due to the fact that women in South Africa make up half the business force and their contributions have not been adequately nurtured. The South African government is aware of the significance that female entrepreneurship has had on the growing economy of the country. As a result, many initiatives have been undertaken by the South African government, including business start-up training and advice as well as mentoring and coaching programmes. Thus, the aim of this study is to critically evaluate the role of female entrepreneurs and their contribution to economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal. The study will further analyse the role played by the South African government in terms of promoting female entrepreneurship, specifically relating to access to finance and training programmes. A ‘snowball’ sample of fifty female entrepreneurs was selected from the central business region of KwaZulu-Natal to complete the questionaire who were in business for more than three years. Data was collected using a questionnaire developed by the researcher. Statistical analysis was conducted on the data in order to reveal whether there were any significant relationships between training programmes instituted by the government and success of the small to medium owned businesses as well as the access to financial support and start-up costs. Research in this study have shown that there are a number of challenges which hindered the growth of female entrepreneurs including shortage of skills, limited access to start-up capital, lack of mentorship and government assistance as well as insufficient family support. Although the government has assisted organisations to assist female entrepreneurs in terms of mentorship and training programmes, more needs to be done in terms of building awareness of these programmes. The government needs to be more proactively involved in the promotion and advertisement of these programmes as well as sponsoring training programmes for women.