Nomsa Daniels: Putting capital in the hands of women #SheHiveJoburg

nomsa daniels shehive joburg she leads africa
Through New Faces New Voices @nomsa_daniels aims to link more women to financial institutions Click To Tweet

On the last day of SheHive JoBurg, the audience heard phenomenal woman share her equally amazing story. Nomsa Daniels is CEO of the Graça Machel Trust, she heads a team of specialists that support the trust’s work on women and children’s rights across the continent. Nomsa is working to ensure that more women in business are able to access the kind of capital they need to start and grow their businesses.

During her talk, Nomsa Daniels focused on the initiative, New Faces New Voices.

What is Nomsa Daniels’ story?

Even from a young age, Nomsa was already interested in development issues. She received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature & History and a Master’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies. Her first job involved working for the US government where she was able to focus on issues pertaining to Africa.

This experience, while enlightening, made Nomsa realize that rather than look at Africa through the lens and agenda of a third party, she would much rather be on the continent, immersed in its issues and dealing with its development there.

As a result, she moved to South Africa in 1987. There, Nomsa was involved in several different projects before she was approached by Graça Machel to join the trust. At the trust where Nomsa, along with her peers, came up with the idea to start New Faces New Voices. This is to give the new generation of young, enterprising black women a space where they could be seen and heard.

What is New Faces New Voices and why should we be interested?

New Faces New Voices is an initiative established by the Graça Machel Trust in 2010 to deepen women’s participation and influence in the financial sector. Its three main objectives are to:

  • increase women’s access to finance and financial services,
  • build capacity and skills of women to access finance and,
  • promote women’s leadership in the financial sector.

Initiatives like this are particularly important because studies have shown that countries that have greater gender equality have more inclusive growth. Also, women tend to invest up to 90% of their wealth into improving the education, health and economic well-being of their families. This investing in women and ensuring that they have access to finance will not only benefit them but their families and countries.

In South Africa, only 7% of adults are engaged in entrepreneurship and the typical entrepreneur is male Click To Tweet

What is the landscape in which New Faces New Voices operates?

In South Africa, only 7% of adults are engaged in entrepreneurship. This figure is alarmingly low when compared to other African counties, also considering the fact that unemployment levels in SA are high. The typical entrepreneur is male, between 25 to 44 years old and lives in an urban area. He is involved in retail and wholesale sector and has a secondary or tertiary education. So where are all the women?

nomsa-danielsResearch on the topic shows that businesses run by women are most prevalent in the following sectors: retail trade, manufacturing clothing, professional services, restaurants/bars and social work activities. Comparing the activities of men and women, it is clear that there is a lot of potential for women especially in atypical areas where they have largely been under-represented.

Reflection point for Motherland Moguls: Challenge yourself to think more broadly and to think outside the box!

Women are faced with cultural constraints that limit their ability to participate fully in business Click To Tweet

Looking at the numbers, there is definitely a business case for investing in women and they represent a sizeable and viable market that can yield a return on investment. Given that this is the case, why are there not more women in business?

Part of the issue is that women face a number of challenges, which although not unique to them, do affect them uniquely. These challenges include that women tend to have lower levels of education and lower income levels. Women also lack collateral, exposure to the market, mentors and role models.

On top of all that, women are faced with cultural constraints, norms and belief systems that limit their ability to participate fully in business. In addition, women face several funding constraints such as lack of business training, lack of information on where to find funding, lack of understanding of what funders look for and lack of business track record.

Reflection point for Motherland Moguls: How do we reform the educational system to ensure that young girls and women are exposed to entrepreneurship at a young age?

How is New Faces New Voices tackling this issue?

New Faces New Voices aims to link more women to financial institutions and funding vehicles that target women. A lot of women are not aware that a lot of institutions have funds ring-fenced specifically for women. These institutions often complain that they cannot find enough women to give these funds to.

New Faces New Voices is working to bridge that gap by helping to connect the right women to the right institutions so that they can access capital that is ready and waiting for them. On the one hand, New Faces New Voices works with the women to bring them to the level they should be at. This is so that they can present an interesting value proposition to these institutions.

On the other hand, New Faces New Voices works with the institutions to help them tailor their programs. This way, their criteria are more realistic and actually suit the needs of the women they are targeting.

Reflection point for Motherland Moguls: Access to finance is important, but so is access to markets!

Final words of advice to all women out there looking to get into business.

  • Do your research. Who funds the type of business you are looking to establish? What is their funding criteria?
  • Understand the type of funding your business requires at various stages (working capital, bridging finance, overdraft).
  • Undertake “investor-readiness” training.
  • Be on the lookout for new ways of finding capital like crowd funding.

Bottom-line: Know what’s out there in the market and take advantage of institutions that support what you want to do!