Women Entrepreneurship Day
“Long Walk to Freedom” is Nelson Mandela’s moving autobiography. Madiba tells the story of his life – an epic of struggles, setbacks, hope, and, finally,
success. This could well be the title of most books written by fempreneurs…. Unfortunately, sometimes without the last chapter. Today is Women Entrepreneurship Day. The release of a solid report by McKinsey highlights the global struggles faced by women entrepreneurs, showcasing the universal need for change. As a seasoned mumpreneur in Mauritius, I relate!
I encountered hundreds of hurdles throughout my 20-year+ entrepreneurial journey. Securing financial support has been a daunting task from Day One,
with significant disparities between men and women, as if a penis is some sort of guaranty for financial institutions. Go figure this one out!?! Additionally, in Mauritius where Malcom De Chazal’s words on us growing prejudice is sadly still true, I’ve experienced situations where someone else was preferred over my company simply because “she is one of us” (these were the literal words that were used, as reported to me) …. leading to strong “communal” and ethical concerns about our country. There are many more challenges and McKinsey lists them super well.
To overcome those, I believe that fempreneurs need to embody the notion of the ‘more.’
Firstly, it is crucial to be “more” resilient than men, as setbacks are bound to happen more often to us than to them if I take my own professional path as an example. Fempreneurs should possess the determination to bounce back over and over and find alternatives when faced with adversity.
Moreover, “more” pugnacity while dealing with financing companies can be a game-changer. By advocating for oneself and very actively engaging with financial institutions, fempreneurs can increase their chances of securing the necessary funding for their ventures. The image is not a nice one, but being like a leech and not letting go when it comes to financial institutions is exhausting but effective.
Innovation and embracing “more” advancements are also crucial. By staying ahead of the curve, fempreneurs can gain a competitive edge in their respective fields. Adopting novel technologies, methodologies and trends more and quicker enables us to expand our capabilities and achieve growth. And what annoyed me at first about my own leadership style has become my biggest “more” strength as a fempreneur. I took me years to completely embrace the fact that my leadership style is that of the “servant leader”. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. But also like the leaders of Fedex, Starbucks and Marriott International among others, who have done very well for themselves. As a “servant” leader, I value others like human beings “more” than many other leaders. I fully embrace the fact that I am a caring and inclusive leader, and that this has worked for me and my company. As long as your “caring” side is not taken for granted because the world has the bad habit of thinking that kindness is equal to weakness. Those who made that mistake have been in for a bad surprise as “more” also applies there when necessary.
Finally, mumpreneurs should recognize that the world is abundant enough for all to thrive. Instead of viewing other female entrepreneurs as competitors, we
should seek “more” collaboration and support. By joining forces, sharing experiences, and exchanging ideas, we can collectively drive positive change in the entrepreneurial landscape and uplift one another. We already have both the “system” and men against us more often than not, even if they won’t admit to it. We should genuinely back each other and not smilingly stab other women in the back – which I have seen too often.
Women Entrepreneurship Day celebrates the achievements and potential of women entrepreneurs across the globe. In the words of Oprah, a fempreneur I so look up to, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate”. I hear you sister!