This month: the growth of female entrepreneurship, increase diversity in the workplace, meet Lola Robertson and Elmarie Marais, our latest square pegs.
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Female entrepreneurship:
Time to move into next gear

There can be no doubt that the position of female entrepreneurs is improving. The numbers show that every year, more women venture into business, and finding women in leadership positions is no longer the surprise that it used to be as recently as one generation ago, says Gugu Mjadu, marketing executive director at Business Partners Limited.

But before we start taking our foot off the accelerator, Mjadu urges a closer inspection of the available data. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a longitudinal comparative study of entrepreneurship across the world, shows that in many countries men and women are roughly equal participants in early-stage entrepreneurship.

In South Africa, however, the ratio is seven women for every ten men who start their own business. Furthermore, the research shows that many of the South African female start-ups are what the GEM researchers call “necessity entrepreneurs” - those who have started their businesses because they had no other choice, as opposed to “opportunity entrepreneurs”, people who start their businesses because they choose to.


Ten tips for increasing diversity in your workplace

When businesses start up, they are often small, tightly-knit groups of pioneers that come from the same background, even from the same family. This works very well in the early survival stages of a venture, but as soon as the business reaches a more stable post-survival growth phase, the founders have the opportunity to look around a bit more widely, and to diversify their workforce.

Those who don’t, forego the richness of varied ideas and run the risk of stagnating, and remaining small and insular. But diversification, like any process of change, can be uncomfortable and risky, says Kgomotso Ramoenyane, Executive General Manager of Human Resources at Business Partners Limited. She offers the following ten tips for entrepreneurs who want to diversify their businesses in the right way:

1. Ask yourself why

Start with examining your reasons for wanting to diversify your staff. If you only want to do it in order to score B-BBEE points so as to get more business, chances are that you are going to find it an exercise in frustration that is likely to strengthen the prejudices of those in your organisation resistant to the idea.

August 2017 / Vol.8.8


Entrepreneur tackles high health costs with her dream hospital

Elmarie Marais describes the friendly, busy vibe at the hospital that she built with a mixture of pride and amazement of someone who almost can’t believe that her dream has come true.

And her pride extends beyond just the physical structure and day-to-day operations of her Centurion Day Hospital to the fact that she finds herself on the forefront of a trend that can save South Africans millions of rands.

One of the major contributors to high medical costs in South Africa, explains Elmarie, is the fact that the vast majority of small medical procedures are done in expensive overnight hospitals with top-of-the-range theatres. It is like using a costly high-end computer to do the work of a pocket calculator.

Because Elmarie’s Centurion Day Hospital specialises in one-day procedures that do not require an overnight stay, the cost of an operation done in one of her two theatres is less than half of that charged by an overnight hospital.


Armadillo proves vitality of SA manufacturing

When Lola Robertson joined a manufacturing company seventeen years ago as a junior buyer, she was one of a handful of women among almost 250 men, and she had a hard time convincing her colleagues that she knew the intricacies of industrial manufacturing.

Four years later, when she took over as general manager, she found none of that resistance - she had proven herself as a top manufacturing executive. Since then she has become the owner and has made sure that half of the staff, from senior managers to factory-floor workers, are female today.

Her thriving company, Armadillo Concepts in Kempton Park, is proof of the vitality and potential of South African innovation and manufacturing. It was started in the early nineties when a retired entrepreneur, Amiel Smith, who was doing handyman chores for his wife’s property business, was robbed of his tools off the back of his bakkie at a traffic light.

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Property type: Office space

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079 533 3754


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