Leadership, gender and poverty : exploring business leadership qualities of the DRC Congolese Refugee women living in Durban.
Although gender inequality is a major element of poverty, women the world over have showed their heroism in the role of both economy generators and family supporters’ by engaging in informal trade. This became most remarkable in South Africa where refugees in general and women in particular are living without either government or UNHCR supports. The following study attempts to explore business leadership qualities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) refugee women living in the city of Durban. The study is the result of challenges that Congolese women informal traders are facing (family responsibilities, identity documents...) since their arrival in South Africa which hinders the development of their businesses. Additionally, this study identified a number of successful strategies for developing businesses and reducing poverty. This research used a qualitative method during data collection. In turn, both explanatory and descriptive theories were used. Congolese refugee women informal traders were the sample taken and were selected from the Congolese community living in the city of Durban. In order to answer the research questions, this study used in-depth interviews and questionnaires where ten Congolese refugee women informal traders between the age of 24 and 41 years were involved. Selecting respondents by the abovementioned ages in this research was helpful for exploring socio-economic challenges of the most categories of the neediest refugee women: widows, single women and mothers of 5 or more children, and so forth. These categories provided relevant information for being mothers and their daily socio-economic challenges in the city of Durban. In the line with findings, respondents on the questions related to business development mentioned the number of factors as hindrance to development of their businesses. Thus, they had no access to business training organized by government and NGOs, poor access to finance, lack of UNCHR support, and family responsibilities especially their refugee status. The study reveals the needs of both UNHCR and government’s support in terms of sponsoring refugees’ projects (including business training) and appropriate identity documents from the department of Home Affairs. UNHCR assistance together with local NGOs and appropriate identity documents are identified to be important factors of respondents’ business development strategies.