The world of the entrepreneur is one of the toughest to navigate, especially if you are a woman. South African women need to be fearless, fabulous and resourceful to overcome the challenges they face as entrepreneurs. Sisters who have made it through the hard times know they would not have made it without the support of other women.
According to the South African results of the latest Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs Index (MIWE), while women entrepreneurs are making strides to overcome gender-related biases and advance their businesses in South Africa, they still face several structural and social obstacles, many of which have been exacerbated by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most female entrepreneurs agree that lack of support is one of the leading barriers to success and also the most likely to cause them to throw in the towel.
The Bernini Squadcast Series, a popular podcast conversation series for women that was launched in Women’s Month in 2020, has fast become the go-to Spotify podcast series for women seeking inspiration and support in their professional and personal lives. The latest episode focuses on women in the workplace and the challenges that women entrepreneurs are faced with.
These honest, open conversations with confident, strong, successful women in the spotlight, who share their vulnerabilities, their personal experiences and their professional journeys on the road to success – clearly resonate with women.
Entrepreneur and editor of stylish digital publication The Throne, Caron Williams; multi-award winning television host and entrepreneur Kim Jayde; and the first female co-founder of a record label in Africa – Ninel Musson are the three phenomenal women who joined host Nomndeni Mdakhi in conversation for episode 8.
Entrepreneur and founder of The Throne – a boutique agency and digital media company that houses her own very successful digital publication – Caron Williams talks to us about how she navigated the waters as a woman entrepreneur – and shares her views on how other women can succeed too.
Q: What prompted you to start you own path to success as an entrepreneur and editor of The Throne, and what has your journey been like?
A: When I started my journey in advertising, I was exposed to the harsh reality that there was no seat at the table for a woman, someone like me, and I dared to build my own throne. My experiences of systematic exclusion while I was building my career instilled a deep desire for me to build my own entity that would allow for young black female creatives to express themselves as they see fit. This has since been at the cornerstone of The Throne- to build an entity that allows for young black women to not only be in rooms where decisions are made, but to also be at the helm of those decisions and be the driving force of change.
The experience of being sidelined also made me see the importance of creating a space where black female creatives could thrive. I saw the need for black women to also contribute to the larger media and digital industry and this is what The Throne is about- diversity, inclusion, creativity and progress in the industry and in society in general. Working in the advertising industry unlocked my mind to always research and be in the know of the next trend or the next direction the industry will take. The shift from traditional media to digital media, as well as the changes in how audiences consume content were at the very foundation of building The Throne.
Q: You have had your fair share of struggles to get to where you are today – what are some of the major obstacles you overcame?
A: One of the biggest challenges in establishing The Throne as a business that can now take on risks and responsibilities such as employing young creatives and remunerating them for their work, was starting capital. I bootstrapped a lot to get things done and to get the business to where it is now. Lack of capital, access to clients and markets. Being a black woman in a male dominated space. These are all real factors.
Q: What are the key things you’ve learnt along the way on your journey as an entrepreneur and how can your lessons help other women?
A: Research. I cannot emphasize the importance of research in this industry enough. Being in the digital media industry requires a high level of research, drive and eagerness to know and be informed, and to just keep up with the times. With a digital publication, we need to stay ahead – The Throne Magazine is doing an incredible job at documenting the trends, changes and developments of our industry, and shifting how urban culture content is being consumed. It is also important to expose yourself to the different facets of creativity and to be in various spaces that drive and enhance creativity – be it in the arts, fashion, finance, digital media, brands, agriculture etc. because this is what inspires brilliant creative ideas and ensures that one is able to compete in your respective fields and beyond.
Q: Who are the women who lifted you up when you fell?
A: I think that we have built such an incredible community of women within The Throne who have been a big part of my journey as an entrepreneur – supporting me through and through – especially in moments that have challenged me. They have also been there to celebrate the highs with me. They are strong and inspire me – and they are everything to me.
Q: What, in your opinion, makes the Bernini Squadcast Series such a powerful platform and how has it touched you personally?
A: The episode I am part of explores the digital economy. I think that the digital economy, influencers and digital entrepreneurs are founded on the basis of digital communities and social media has enabled us to be able to do this in a massive way. There are many women in my life who are just phenomenal, but a community that particularly stands out for me is the community of women on social media. I think it is so powerful to have women from all walks of life and from different professions who ordinarily wouldn’t perhaps have the opportunity to gather and exchange thoughts, opinions and get into a discourse about numerous topics. I think that it’s beautiful that Bernini is facilitating this for us. All the women on the panel for this episode – episode 8 – and all the women who are part of this campaign are women I love and respect. I think they are all so phenomenal, talented and diverse and I am truly inspired by their personal journeys.
Q: Many women will want to listen to the 8th episode of the Squadcast Series on Spotify, Can you share some of the topics of conversation? Also, where can women find the podcast?
Yes, I would love to. This episode is titled “Rewards” and we discuss the new emerging digital economy and what that means for influencers and content creators. I think there’s been an incredible rise of digital entrepreneurs, content creators, influencers, Youtubers and bloggers who’ve been able to monetize their passions in a way that previous generations were not. This really speaks to women and to my audience at The Throne.
Being able to delve into the business side of things and the economy of it has just been really amazing. I think that there has been a phenomenal shift within the digital media economy, and watching the digital economy grow and evolve has been exciting and even more thrilling to be a part of. Keeping an eye on the massive role that young black women are playing in shaping this landscape. That’s what people can look forward to. Women who’d like to listen to this conversation can find the podcast on Spotify and most major streaming platforms.
Look out for the next conversation in this ‘Burst’ of episodes when Nomndeni Mdakhi will be chatting to radio and TV personality Penny Lebyane, ambassador for Lux Tshiamo Modisane, and award-winning model of Reality TV fame, Blue Mbombo about the impact and power of relationships on the path to success. This episode will be ‘live’ on Spotify on Sunday 9 May.
Bernini supports responsible drinking and encourages all South Africans to consume alcohol responsibly, wherever they may be. Alcohol not for sale to persons under 18 years. Bernini Marketing Manager, Tania Kotze.