By Sinazo Mkoko
“We’re committed to developing platforms to engage with and support communities and businesses wherever we operate, building our brand through relevant and meaningful sponsorships. We’re more than just a bank. We look beyond the financial outcome to create more value socially, economically and environmentally.”
This forms part of Standard Bank’s mission statement. The country’s economy is at the hands of those who put the country’s needs first while leaving a legacy for future generations and improving lives for the better.
According to Stats SA, young people in South Africa continue to be disadvantaged in the labour market with an unemployment rate higher than the national average. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2022,showed that the unemployment rate was 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42.1% for those aged 25-34 years, while the current official national rate stands at 34.5%.
Support comes in many forms, but women in leadership positions could do better in mentoring and uplifting young entrepreneurs in the country. Most industries in South Africa are still male dominated and it’s of vital importance to ensure that female business heads do what they can to help the upcoming generation of female business leaders. Ushantha O’Donnell of engineering consultants and trusted advisors, Zutari states: “I believe that my field could improve in its diversity and that is why I am personally committed to upholding an environment that is gender diverse through the magic of mentoring. I am an avid mentor and coach within my space and I revel in unlocking the potential of the people around me.”
Invest in their businesses
The investments can come in monetary form, time or information-sharing. These are invaluable ways in which female business leaders can show support to young entrepreneurs. The chairperson of the SA Innovation Summit chair, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, said “women entrepreneurs who are entering the space still need to negotiate levels of male-dominated industries to bring their ideas to life. At the same time, there’ s an appetite in the market for good female pitches.”
She added that to harness this future, there’s a need to shape the perceptions of girls and young women and empower them to lead at the edge of innovation. “We are powerful. Right now, connectivity is empowering us to build these better businesses. It allows us to work from anywhere, anytime – even while at home with children. There’s a phenomenal future for women on the horizon.
You’ve paved the way, allow them to use their voices and tell their own stories
Each generation has its own challenges, but gender diversity remains a global challenge to this day. It is vital for each generation to have an opportunity to tell their own stories. The CEO of PwC Southern Africa, Shirley Machaba, summed this perfectly stating that: ”We need to create seats for others, provide them with opportunities and mentorship support in the name of “lift as you rise”.