Dell has announced the findings of its 2017 Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (WE Cities) – a global, gender-specific index that looks at a city’s ability to attract and foster growth of women-owned companies.
Johannesburg ranked 28th out of the 50, ahead of Seoul, Barcelona, Tokyo and Dublin, to name a few notable locations. The top five cities for women entrepreneurs are New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, London, Boston and Stockholm. Cities are ranked on five categories of characteristics – capital, technology, talent, culture and markets. The study ranks cities to show the impact of local policies, programs and characteristics in addition to national laws and customs on high-performing women entrepreneurs.
“Globally, women’s entrepreneurship rates are growing more than 10 percent each year. In fact, women are as likely or more likely than men to start businesses in many markets. However, financial, cultural and political barriers can limit the success of these businesses,” says Karen Quintos, EVP and chief customer officer at Dell. “By arming city leaders and policymakers with data-driven research and clear calls to action, we can collectively improve the landscape for high-potential women entrepreneurs, which in turn dramatically lifts a city’s economic prospects – as what is good for women is good for the economy.”
Johannesburg Overall Score 38.6/100 | Overall Rank 28/50
4.7 million population
$102 billion Gross Metro Product (2016)
Top industries by employment are: (1) Finance, (2)Trade, (3) Community services & (4) Manufacturing
Powerful women in South Africa, at least in politics, are not uncommon: the percentage of women in the Parliament of South Africa, 44%, is among the highest in the world.
Additionally, women represent 42% of the Cabinet and 38.4% of local government.
The country also has several policies designed to decrease gender bias.
For example, Section Nine of the Constitution of South Africa guarantees “equality before the law and freedom from discrimination” and the Employment Equity Act defines “unfair discrimination” as a difference in terms and conditions of employment between employees of the same employer performing the same or substantially the same work or work of equal value based on gender, among other characteristics (ranking it 7th on Policy in the Culture pillar).
Moreover, female talent in South Africa extends beyond politics: in Johannesburg, 76% of adult women participate in the labour force and there are four local business schools with an average female enrolment of nearly 43%.
Ranking 11th on Markets overall (driven by its 7th place rank in Policy), the City of Johannesburg also has a website that helps people start a business and the national statistics agency, StatsSA, collects gender data on income and employment at the regional level in the Quarterly Labor Force Survey (QLFS), which helps keep track of women’s economic progress over time.
Areas for Improvement
Johannesburg has many opportunities to better nurture and support women entrepreneurs.
Education is a key area for improvement, both for entrepreneurial women and the workforce at large: less than 19% of the female working age population has a tertiary education or above (although this is still higher than the 17% of the male population with a tertiary education or above). Another area of improvement is paid maternity benefits, which currently stand at just four months of unpaid or partially paid maternity leave. This would help women maintain and build their capital base where the city ranks 39th.
Johannesburg could host networking opportunities and build city level organisations and/or incubator and accelerator programs specifically for entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs.
Johannesburg also ranks 50th on safety. That said, it could address its high crime rate (and its percent of people worried about being attacked) so the overall working environment is safer for women.
Johannesburg could also increase women’s use of technology by developing programs to decrease the high average monthly cost of internet (ranking 41st) and by creating technology training programs specifically designed for women (where it ranks 48th out of 50).