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Gender gap mars South Africa SME tech landscape

by TINTSWALO BALOYI 
JOHANNESBURG – ALMOST two-thirds (63 percent) of South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are making effective use of technology but there is a significant gap in the effectiveness of the use between male and female business owners.

This is according to The South African SME Tech Index 2023, a new measure of technology effectiveness based on research conducted by World Wide Worx on behalf of total workspace solutions provider, Nashua.

The Index is drawn from the percentage of SMEs that self-report as being highly effective in their use of technology.

This in turn allows technology effectiveness to be measured across industries, company sizes and the gender of their leadership.

The research, which surveyed over 300 SMEs, shows that the 2023 SME Tech Index stands at 72 percent for male-led businesses, and 56 percent for female-led businesses, highlighting a disparity in access to technology.

This suggests that addressing the divide in technology use effectiveness across genders could help female-owned companies to boost their growth and competitiveness.

Arthur Goldstuck, Chief Executive Officer of World Wide Worx, said female-owned companies in the research showed higher business growth compared to male-owned companies, indicating their competitiveness and ability to navigate challenges.

“Yet they have a lower perception of technology effectiveness than their male counterparts, as well as lower levels of tech investment,” he said.

Gldstuck said this suggests that women in smaller businesses face barriers such as limited resources, lack of training and societal norms in leveraging technology.

By addressing these barriers, through access to resources, training programmes, and mentorship, the industry can help foster gender diversity and equal opportunities.

“It is clear, from their overall competitiveness, that such investment will reap dividends for the businesses as well as for the economy,” Goldstuck said.

Barry Venter, CEO of Nashua, said lauded the SME sector as vital to job creation and economic growth in South Africa.

As such, he is encouraged to see the research confirm that the sector is adaptable, optimistic and putting technology to effective use.

“But it’s also clear that many entrepreneurs, especially women, still face barriers to adoption of ICT solutions,” Venter said.

– CAJ News

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