Across Africa, the number of women embarking upon hugely personal journeys to launch exciting new businesses is on the rise - and with it is the number of women juggling the demands of being entrepreneurs with their equally demanding roles as Moms. Yet, when you think about it, it’s no great surprise - women, and especially those who are Moms, are essentially hard-wired to multi-task, they do it everyday of their lives.
So, adding the extra challenge of starting up a business venture, whilst at the same time raising and educating kids, managing a home, and nurturing personal relationships, is not perhaps as daunting as many would think - well, at least not to other women that is.
There are many reasons why more and more Moms in Africa are making conscious decisions to become entrepreneurs. For some, it is a matter of absolute necessity - many women have become for whatever reasons the sole breadwinners in their families and have to look at not just raising their children but also supporting an extended family network. This requires greater and more stable income stream opportunities, and a more guaranteed and controllable future, which entrepreneurship can offer in the long-term. For others, it is a highly conscious decision, based on a personal desire for self-fulfillment and the need to create something tangible and lasting beyond the realms of raising the next generation. In addition, for many women who are also Moms in Africa, the opportunity to realise personal entrepreneurial ambitions whilst at the same time being in control of all aspects of their lives, including becoming financially independent, are also strong drivers of this new Mompreneurship trend on the continent.
Moms in Africa inherently have so many of the essential and in-built traits that one associates with successful entrepreneurs
When one thinks about it, Moms in Africa inherently have so many of the essential and in-built traits that one associates with successful entrepreneurs - the ability to constantly multi-task and juggle a hundred and one projects whilst still being able to see the big picture; a knack for problem-solving and conflict resolution (just equate squabbling kids in the playground to a fractious boardroom situation); the ability to operate on minimal budgets whilst achieving maximum outputs, critical in the early days of a startup enterprise; and a talent for creativity and innovation (just think whipping up a quick, last-minute costume for a child’s school dress up day out of an old table cloth, or providing the know-how for making that gold-star science project out of empty yoghurt cartons and toilet roll holders!). Not to mention the ability to achieve all of this whilst being sleep deprived for a great deal of the time.
Above all, women understand the power of sheer hard work and the ability to keep going when times are tough, particularly here in Africa where there is no shortage of challenges that would test the best and most experienced minds in the world of business. These women are strong, resilient and capable of bouncing back when the inevitable setbacks happen, often emerging more determined then ever. Ultimately, women are natural communicators with a passion and talent for proactively engaging with others, a key building block of building any successful entrepreneurial venture, which requires collaboration and continual communication. It stands them in good stead during the most challenging of times.
"There is a whole other life out there of mums who get the best of both worlds - dropping their kids off at school, then devoting their days to working on their business. They can be 100% mum between school and bedtime, and then return to work on their businesses once the kids are safely snuggled up in bed."
- Annabel Karmel, Successful Mumpreneur and Author
Yet, talk to any successful Mompreneur about how they manage to balance their home-life and their entrepreneurial life and they will most likely tell you it is not in reality about achieving balance - that is for most women in Africa an unattainable goal. Instead, it is all about undergoing a critical lifestyle and mindset change. Some of the continent’s biggest brand and company builders and most successful women entrepreneurs will tell you that their journeys to success have been anything but smooth or easy, instead they have required huge sacrifices and a real buy-in and support from the family as a whole - husbands, partners and children included. This was brought home to me recently when I was interviewing a truly inspirational South African woman entrepreneur who today has a highly successful business empire and a growing global lifestyle brand. She related stories of how in the early, tough days of building her company whilst also a single-parent and going through difficult personal circumstances, she and the children worked together as a committed family enterprise, dealing with enquiries, packaging orders and selling products. Today, the children may have grown up, yet they remain an integral part of this successful South African company, taking the business into a new and even more exciting era.
The future growth and prosperity of the African continent relies upon this exciting new movement of visionary, strong, independent entrepreneurs who are harnessing their passions and their talents and using them to create and grow new, high potential and highly regarded businesses. Amongst these will be a legion of Mompreneurs who are taking the art of multi-tasking to a new level, and in the process, creating a new business culture in Africa that celebrates the women who want to lead the most fulfilled and successful lives, on all levels.
THE EDIT is a blog by Melanie Hawken founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa. Melanie is a passionate supporter of women's entrepreneurship across Africa and is on a mission to build a powerful community to inspire the Continent's next generation of women entrepreneurs. The Edit features opinion, commentary and analysis on a wide range of topics of interest to today’s women entrepreneurs on the African continent. You can follow Lionesses of Africa's Website | Community Platform | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+