Information sharing and forging strategic partnerships are key to growing a business.
So says Alana James, owner of communications company Gecko Connect, during a recent address at the Women Entrepreneurs on the Rise conference held by Old Mutual in Cape Town.
James was one of the keynote speakers at the conference which was hosted in May and supported by Nedbank and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism at the Old Mutual Park in Pinelands.
The event was attended by women business owners, with talks given by motivational speaker Roxy Marosa and UK-based business coach Jasmine Grindlay. The department’s support for the conference forms part of its mandate to offer assistance to business owners through networking sessions.
Entrepreneur and conference organiser Ange Busaka says the aim is to raise awareness among women entrepreneurs to an existing trend of sharing information on private sector and government business support initiatives.
“Many women businesses face serious challenges which could be remedied by building business relationships and networking at enterprise development events to source information,” says Busaka.
“One could check up on what is the latest in their respective industries through the internet, word-of-mouth, newspapers and television programmes. This way you find yourself building relationships that you could use to grow your enterprise.”
Some of the main discussions at the conference focused on the lack of growth in some women-led businesses and the failure of entrepreneurs to spot market trends.
James says she believes the key to success among women-owned enterprises is the exchange of relevant information.
After attending international business conventions she says she was able to acquire information from industry experts that helped grow her business.
“In turn, I shared information with other businesses. Business growth depends highly on the intricate use of information. I have previously been invited to business gatherings to network and that added value to both my business and my clients,” she says.
She referred businesses to the support of organisations like the Cape Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry which occasionally hosts discussions by various business stakeholders.
Tatende Zingoni, a business development researcher, explained how businesses can also secure their growth by supporting the development of their respective communities through incentives like basic skills promotions.
“Many entrepreneurs find it advantageous to equal the growth of their companies with the skills promotion of their community members. This way you can employ a skilled person (from your community),” he says. Nontsikelelo Mgayiya, director and founder of Isithembiso Suppliers, says starting her construction business in 2004 was a big challenge.
“Women in the construction industry struggle many times to acquire useful support and information. Hence, I have gone on to empower women professionals by employing, skilling and uplifting them to contribute to the industry and gain respectable positions,” says Mgayiya.
Busaka urged women entrepreneurs to support each other by sharing ideas.