Biggest challenges facing female entrepreneurs in 2019

Biggest challenges facing female entrepreneurs in 2019

We spoke to three female entrepreneurs in different sectors about the challenges they face in business.

Focused young woman sitting on stairs using a laptop / iStock
Focused young woman sitting on stairs using a laptop / iStock

Running a business is never easy, and it becomes even more challenging when you are a woman.

For decades, women have been economically, socially, and politically disempowered.

But this is slowly changing. More women are climbing the corporate ladder and making their mark.

We spoke to female photographer Mmakgomo Mushwana, the founder of ‘Sali Sali’ photography; Zanele Mochechela, an Uber car owner; and Faith Mneno, the founder of ‘Nanny On Call’, ‘HerMajesty’, and ‘Likamva Lam’. The women shared some of the challenges they have been facing as businesswomen.

Defying social expectations

The photography industry is male-dominated and Mmakgomo says proving to society that a female photographer is just as good as a male one has been one of her biggest challenges.

"The biggest challenge I face as a black woman who is a photographer is being undermined. People don't expect us to do an excellent job. They look down on us," says Mmakgomo.

But Mmakgomo has managed to crush this stereotype and has become one of the most sought-after photographers around. She has worked with the likes of Somizi Mhlongo, Mpoomy Ledwaba, and Mmatema Moremi.

Lack of respect

Mmakgomo says another challenge she has faced is dealing with clients who are disrespectful to women.

"Another challenge is once a person has paid you, they expect you to do what they tell you to do, even though it's not in the contract. They would say we paid you for the job and you must give us whatever we want," says Mmakgomo.

Remaining true to yourself and your purpose

Faith says one of the most challenging things for female entrepreneurs is staying true to your business, and not trying to be a jack of all trades.

"I have found that as a woman entrepreneur there are many opportunities to pursue. This is good because it reflects that there is a place for us in this sector and that is recognised. It's bad because unless you know what your purpose is you can easily get involved with everything and be average in them all. The challenge is being able to pursue harder for key things that execute your 'why' or your key pursuit and being able to say no to good things not aligned to your 'why’,” says Faith.

Balancing work and family life

Most women are still expected to run their households while managing their businesses. This, according to Faith, is a big challenge.

"Women generally are expected to take the larger role in household management and taking care of our homes and families. Whilst we gladly do this, it also takes up much time and energy. Owning and running a business also means long hours of work and that's why work-life balance becomes a big challenge as an entrepreneur," says Faith.

"Men, on the other hand, generally play a secondary role in household and child management. I am happy to observe that this is slowly changing as more men are stepping up to household responsibilities. It becomes more difficult for those who lack social support because they have to carry the entire burden by themselves. At ‘Nanny on Call’ we get the opportunity to give this support," says Faith.

Lack of support and mentorship

Faith says female entrepreneurs are finding it hard to be open about their challenges because of fear.

"Networks and trusted advisors are very key to help you through the journey. Generally, men easily support each other, they have multiple forums where they meet and advise each other, whilst women, out of fear, do not share much but compete with each other. Stepping out of fear and supporting someone fully and exposing yourself fully to someone who can mentor and support you is one of the challenges we need to overcome,” she says.


For Zanele, an Uber car owner, the biggest challenges most women face is corruption.

She says the other challenge is nepotism.

"Tenders are generally awarded to friends or family all with self-interest, unless you have a family or political connection you hardly ever get awarded a thing. Generally, it takes a bit longer particularly as a woman to climb up the ladder especially if you are trying to follow the right procedures because some men expect something in return when they give you something."

Main image courtesy of iStock

ALSO READ: 6 Ways women can help empower each other in the workplace

Show's Stories