How can we advance female entrepreneurship and what can we do to stop the backslide?
ABD: “Governments need to realize the importance of women entrepreneurs in their economy and to inspire entrepreneurial attitudes. Women in business, sometimes feel invisible. African Women have a voice that can no longer be silenced. We are wanting to be the change and help create employment. But it starts with young girls at home: instill in them a love for reading and learning which will lead them to a sense of curiosity about the world. As the sayings go: “Little girls with dreams become women with vision” and “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken adults”. Government needs to create links between women entrepreneurs and corporates. Have these corporate giants pledge their support to include women entrepreneurs in their supply chain and governments to be equally committed to keeping those conversations alive. For a successful African woman, it is your duty as a woman to help another woman. When women support each other, incredible things happen. I do mentor a handful of women in business including our female staff complement and recommend they participate in great accelerator programs that are funded by the government. To women, I would recommend learning the basics of business, study, read, job shadow, ask for help. Use what is at your disposal, visit internet cafes and google, programs are waiting for you to sign up with. In South Africa, an organization called Seda will help you with your business idea and help turn it into a reality.”
What would be your advice to women who want to start a business?
ABD: “Remember start-ups default state is a failure, as an entrepreneur we have to work to un-fail it. In business we mistakenly think it’s all about that great idea, it’s not. Everyone has ideas. The most successful companies are founded on a combination of frugality, wise spending, customer service, and superior products. Always spend wisely. Don’t go broke trying to look rich. That’s a mistake lots of entrepreneurs make. When you buy things, you don’t need soon you will have to sell things you do need. Do you know that 85% of your financial success is due to your personality, ability to communicate, lead and negotiate? Only 15% is due to technical knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, KNOW, ABSORB, BREATHE and LIVE every aspect of your business but it brings it back to this. People buy People, not products. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Hustle like hell. I’ve begged, pleaded, and borderline harassed editors of magazines for free editorial. I hand-wrote letters to every single person who appeared on the tv show Undercover Boss USA, Dragons Den UK, Richard Branson, and every other successful person I admire asking for tips and mentorship.
As a women wellness entrepreneur what do you think is the most important skill that has helped you build your brand?
ABD: “Compassion! Knowing we are serving a purpose greater than ourselves. We have a great company culture and I personally strive to be flawless and impeccable with my word with my employees and customers. As women, our default state is to help and nurture. Honest, raw, and real conversations, exposing one’s vulnerability has opened many doors for me. I keep my values front and center. I believe Ego will destroy one. I am an open book, transparent about myself, my life, and my products. Persistence has taken me places, not talent or genius or even education. In business integrity is everything. Generosity and kindness go a long way too. I do not take the smallest gestures for granted as they speak the loudest. Being quite self-aware and
prioritizing personal development and that of my team, their development, and becoming the best versions of themselves is integral to my leadership style. I try and encourage strategic thinking, innovation, and action. This is the rainbow nation and we ensure to practice effective cross-cultural communication. I coach, motivate, and lead by example. I have a responsibility and need to develop others to succeed in their roles and prepare for future roles. Other roles include being a facilitator, strategist, visionary, a shoulder to cry on, a life and work coach but also being able to make tough decisions. Also, my company is a 100% black women-owned business and all of us come from disadvantaged backgrounds and gender bias- an inequality- is not a challenge we face as a company.”