Huge impact from our programmes in South Africa

Following an external evaluation of our programmes in South Africa, we're pleased to share their impacts.

In 2022, thanks to funding from DHL Express, we ran three of our flagship programmes in South Africa—delivered with partner Gordon Institute of Business Science Entrepreneurship Development Academy. Following an external evaluation, we’re pleased to share the project’s terrific impacts. 

In South Africa, starting and growing a business can be challenging. Many small and medium sized enterprises remain informal, due to a complex regulatory environment and costly formalisation processes. For women entrepreneurs, there are additional barriers like unpaid care work and gender stereotypes. These factors hold women’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) back and can limit their profitability. In fact, women owned SMEs in South Africa have 33% less turnover than men’s.  

Our programmes are designed specifically to address these barriers that women entrepreneurs face. They are adapted for local contexts to make them relevant and accessible to the women we work with. This approach is what makes our work so impactful.

In April 2022 we re-commenced active delivery of our HerVenture business skills app, which at that time had been available in the country for a year already. The app was actively promoted to users until the end of the year. For the first time in South Africa we ran our Road to Growth training programme from August to October 2022 and our Road to Leadership training programme in November 2022. Both were delivered to women entrepreneurs through a blend of online and face-to-face delivery. 

Shereen Cassim Hassim, a female entrepreneur, poses for a photograph in front of her business.
Shereen Hassim, Owner of Book Express and Road to Growth alumna, South Africa

To deliver these, we partnered with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA), South Africa’s Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) also supported the promotion of HerVenture to expand the reach of the app. The project in its entirety was funded by DHL Express – our partners since 2020. 

Our award-winning HerVenture app supported 2,515 women entrepreneurs as users during this project. The app supported them to build the skills, knowledge, confidence and self-belief to start and grow businesses, support their entrepreneurial journeys and digitise their enterprises.  HerVenture is also data-light and can be used offline, a key feature as data can be very expensive in South Africa.  

49 women took part in the Road to Growth programme. Participants were able to strengthen their business plans and implement new systems for managing their workload and finances. This makes it easier for them to increase their turnover and start closing South Africa’s gender gap in business profitability.   

Having the time and space to think about my business with the experts around me was fantastic. It gave me time to remind myself again what I’m trying to do, and why. I gained a lot on the programme, and I gained business, so I feel more empowered.

Dudu Makhari, Executive Director of the Ngangezwe Foundation and Road to Growth alumna, South Africa

Following our 2021 country assessment of South Africa, which indicated that women entrepreneurs in the country had an appetite for programmes that teach confidence, negotiation, networking and communication skills, we delivered our Road to Leadership programme to 40 South African women entrepreneurs. Women in the programme also learned about advocacy and while a relatively short period of time has elapsed since completion of Road to Leadership, 60% of participants indicated that they have already undertaken advocacy activities. An example of this is participation in the formation of a Local Tourism Forum, with the aim to improve tourism activities and the visibility of women entrepreneurs’ businesses.

For women who participated in a combination of two or more programmes...

100% felt very confident in their business decision making following completion, compared to 38% before taking part

100% demonstrated improved financial competency upon participating in combination of programmes

92% improved business performance

Mercy Manzini, founder of Mercy’s Company, and HerVenture User poses with the app
Mercy Manzini, Founder of Mercy’s Company and HerVenture User, South Africa

HerVenture users...

94% improved their business performance

95% improved their confidence in their ability to run a business

Kea Modise-Moloto, Founder of Arise in Johannesburg, South Africa poses with her magazine in the hallway of her business.
Kea Modise-Moloto, Founder of Arise Magazine and Road to Leadership alumna, South Africa.

Road to Leadership participants...

99% saw a large increase in their leadership skills

100% saw a large increase in their communication skills

Shereen Cassim Hassim, a female entrepreneur, rests her head on some books.
Shereen Hassim, Owner of Book Express and Road to Growth alumna, South Africa

Road to Growth participants...

88% grew their networks

66% reported improved business performance

Key findings from the evaluation 

Stronger results when programmes are combined 

In South Africa, evaluators found that participants who combined HV with other programmes experienced a more substantial change in their business practices with more participants indicating that they have an e-commerce strategy, finance, a succession plan, a digital marketing plan and a business plan. 

Confidence has improved 

Across programmes, the majority evaluation participants reported increased confidence about in their business competence. This could be seen in the positive changes in self-belief, confidence in ability to run their business, confidence in business decision-making, financial competence, feeling of having a network of business peer support and confidence in business networking. 

Access to finance 

The programmes contribute to participants’ increased revenue, business savings and employees. However, overall participants also reported limited success in obtaining business financing, which is an area where they all felt they needed more support. This finding highlights the need for the Foundation’s Road to Finance programme which we hope to expand into South Africa in the near future.  

Road to Growth Graduates, South Africa 2023.
Road to Growth participants celebrate their graduation in South Africa.

What’s next? 

2023 saw us continue to deliver HerVenture, Road to Growth and Road to Leadership in South Africa – and also, for the first time, deliver our online Mentoring Women in Business programme as part of our project with DHL Express. This year saw us bring the total number of women we’ve supported in the country since our project began in 2021 to over 5,000. 

In 2024, we hope to continue running HerVenture, Road to Growth, Road to Leadership and Mentoring Women in Business in South Africa, as well as bringing our Road to Finance programme to the country for the first time. Road to Finance supports women to build their skills and confidence in order to successfully secure finance, grow their businesses and achieve their potential.

Written by Franziska Wilk. 

Made possible by...

DHL logo
Gordon Institute of Business Science Entrepreneurship Development Academy
Seda logo