Challenges that affect female entrepreneurs and how to overcome them

June 10, 2018
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Looking at our economy, Kenya recorded a decrease in the unemployment rate to 11 percent in 2017 from 11.29 percent in 2015, with the all-time high being 12.18 percent in 2010 and a record low of 8.10 percent in 1999.

These statistics continue to reflect a high youth unemployment rate. Companies have opted to downsize due to the harsh economic environment thus driving Kenyans to entrepreneurship, with more women now opening businesses compared to a decade ago.

The amount of female-owned business globally has been steadily on the rise, in fact according to a study in the U.S, over 8 million firms in the U.S alone are now owned by women, hiring more than 7 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in revenue.

According to statistics on the 2016 Micro Small and Medium Enterprises in Kenya 47.9 percent of certified businesses were owned by men whereas 32.2 percent were owned by women.

Women-owned 60.7 percent of unlicensed businesses. This high number of women in the informal sector is steered by survival rather than business opportunities.

Being an entrepreneur is probably one of the toughest things you’re ever going to do especially as a female businessperson.

Breaking social expectations is one of the issues that cannot be overlooked. Most female business people who have attended business seminars can attest to counting the number of females present on one hand.

In such settings, women may feel the need to espouse a stereotypically “male” attitude towards business: aggression, harshness and competitiveness, but female bosses deem that being true to yourself and finding your voice is the means to going beyond prejudiced expectations.

Do not feel inclined to conform to what people consider an ideal CEO should look like. Celebrate your achievements and hard work. Be firm and clear in standing up for your business.

Lack of a support system can also be a huge hindrance. 50 percent of female CEOs always say that the absence of accessible advisors and gurus limit growth.

Whereas finding the right support system isn’t a walk in the park, one of the right places to start would be the female networking events.

Work-life balance is a major factor to everyone, male or female, but mom-prenuers tend to have a stiff role in running the home and simultaneously running their businesses and in this part, customary gender expectations habitually prevail.

There is always a way to balance time, but despite that don’t take shortcomings on either side too seriously. You’re naturally a superhuman without much effort, so the next time you miss sports day don’t beat yourself too much.

To find the best work-life combination, female entrepreneurs tend to struggle but you may need to learn to be comfortable delegating tasks and asking for help when necessary.

Female CEOs tend to have much more pressure not to fail. According to a study in 2012, fearing failure is one of the top ten concerns of women who launch businesses. Don’t look at it as a negative thing, you’ll need a great number of shortcomings to get to success. Work through the uncertainty, everyone goes through them. At the end of the day when you’re successful no one cares about your gender.

Most importantly give it your A game, and take yourself seriously by making sure you’re at the right level or path, take chances and don’t be afraid to stand out, be fearless and don’t just lean forward, plunge ahead. Playing it safe doesn’t lead to any real success.

Go unapologetically She-EO’s, you don’t need anyone’s permissions.

By Silvya Kananu, Sinapis Country manager 

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