Our Senior Entrepreneurship Programme Manager Sally Walker announces the latest development to our HerVenture app and reflects on the app’s use in South Africa.

This week we’ve launched a new Business Resilience learning track for our business skills app HerVenture in South Africa!

The app’s new Business Resilience learning track is its ninth. It delves into essential topics like understanding personal and business resilience, diagnosing and dealing with the impact of crises, and designing strategies to deal with future crises. Other areas covered by the app include launching a business, product innovation and expanding market access.

We developed the HerVenture mobile learning app specifically for women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries to access the skills, confidence and networks they need to grow their businesses ‘on-the go’. It’s been fantastic to see all the business growth and successes of the many women who’ve used it so far.

HerVenture has had over 41,000 users across Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia and Vietnam, before launching in South Africa this June. South African women entrepreneurs can download HerVenture for free through the App Store on iOS and the Google Play Store on Android, and the app is already supporting hundreds of women and their businesses in the country. One South African woman entrepreneur says the app “has managed to break down business concepts into a simple and practical language that speeds up the process of planning and creating a successful business.” Another user in South Africa agrees: “What a great app [with which] I can learn with no disruptions, [it’s] easy to navigate and [is] knowledge in my pocket. Learning at my fingertips made simple.”

The new Business Resilience track was created after a need for more learning materials on dealing with a business crisis was identified in the Foundation’s in-depth market assessment, which looked at the needs of South African women entrepreneurs. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has had a significant effect on women entrepreneurs: according to Mastercard, 59% of women-owned businesses in South Africa are in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as retail, restaurants, food shops and domestic services. Our assessment found that 53% of the women entrepreneurs surveyed have changed their business to adapt to new markets in order to survive. Many have had to pivot their businesses to the financial, human resource and market challenges that COVID-19 has brought.

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A huge 96% of women entrepreneurs surveyed wanted to learn more about managing their business through uncertainty. They specifically wanted to learn about strategies that support flexibility in target markets and business models in uncertain economic environments. Women entrepreneurs also expressed a strong desire to learn more about building and practicing personal resilience. The Business Resilience track has therefore been designed to address the many obstacles that women entrepreneurs in various parts of the world are currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also addresses barriers caused by broader crises, such as climate change.

Our market assessment also found:

  • South African women entrepreneurs want to develop their personal skills as well as their businesses. These include entrepreneurial traits like persistence, leadership, self-confidence, innovation, professionalism and resilience.
  • Navigating the financial challenges of running a business is a major hurdle to many entrepreneurs. Women want to know more about budgeting and assessing financial needs, financial literacy, controlling costs, cash flow management, bookkeeping and bank statement reconciliation.
  • All of the women entrepreneurs surveyed also recognised the need to learn more about technology, e-commerce, market access, ideation and innovation.

COVID-19 has certainly meant that women entrepreneurs have had to accelerate their online presence and e-commerce activity. Our assessment also found that on average more than 64% of respondents think there are great opportunities for them in e-commerce. This means HerVenture can be a strong and useful tool for many more women entrepreneurs thanks to the e-commerce and digital marketing learning tracks that we added to the app last year before it was rolled out in South Africa. We’re confident that South African women entrepreneurs will find it, and the new learning track, to be a timely and vital resource, and are excited to see our impact grow with our partners AWIEF and DHL Express.

100,000 Women Animation

Bringing HerVenture to South Africa forms part of our ambitious 100,000 Women Campaign to support another 100,000 women in low and middle income countries by 2022.

HerVenture is highly scalable and adaptable. The Foundation is actively seeking funding partnerships to enable the app to launch in, but not limited, to Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique, with each iteration carefully adapted for a local context. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss potential partnerships!

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