By Amanda-Ellen Jojo
AS gender is increasingly becoming fluid, the notion of gender-first branding of companies is according to research shifting norms towards women taking the lead as a result this has seen the rise of a concept dubbed fempreneurship. Fempreneurship is a trendy word that women use to describe their role as entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneurial Magazine caught up with award winning entrepreneur, humanitarian, TV presenter, project manager, consultant and celebrity ghostwriter Sympathy Sibanda who believes that being a fempreneur is more than a status but rather it is a game changer in shifting the narrative around women and leadership.
Below are the extracts of the interview;
Q: In your own understanding what is a fempreneur and fempreneurship
A: When I see these words, I think of resilience within women to build areas of impact around their lives in relation to problem-solving for profit. In other words, it relates to a female entrepreneur, business for women by women. “For women…is not cast in stone but by women is.”
Q: What is your take on this gender-first branding especially in line with the fempreneurship concept?
A: Tracing the history of female segregation, for me the gender first branding is usually necessary. Women are making strides into places that were restrictive to them, we need that applause. However, there are times when it’s not necessary, when it comes off as a question of ‘Why is this woman in this room?’
So, while generating first branding can be applauded for noticing women’s strides it can also hamper their progress. It’s up to journalists to see which narrative they are building upon.
Q: In the larger scheme of business operations is it helping or hurting? Kindly explain how.
A: Context is important. I have been helped by hordes of women from various female groups to break some ceilings into places I wouldn’t have if I only belonged to groups for both genders. Women are coming together to support each other because in spite of which social strata one is from, there are things termed ‘female issues’ which can be understood by females.
Therefore, with applications that come with ‘so and so is an equal access employer, female candidates are encouraged to apply…’ prepares room for growth for the gender that was once relegated to the kitchen not boardroom. I know some misuse this and it ends up hurting women, so before doing the gender first brandishing ask yourself: Who is it helping? Is it necessary?
Q: In your own personal capacity, how are you applying the concept of “fempreneurship” in uplifting women?
I am passionate about women empowerment so what I do when going to source our raw materials at Amandla brands (food manufacturing company) we source mainly from women especially those that are vulnerable for example those that are suffering from chronic diseases, widows, single parents and bulk of our employees are female. I also have the Women Writers Support group which train women to write for free, encourage them to write, destress ad not give up on life.
Q: Some are of the view that fempreneurship aims to create a world where women are allowed to be feminine. What is your take on that?
Being allowed to be female is where the problem is. I am female and I love being one, I don’t want to be segregated because of my gender. No one should and has the power to make me feel feminine.
However, this paradigm to me is from an angle where women are allowed to still be mothers, wives, guardians and still be corporate, business, sport, political leaders. “My pregnancy doesn’t make my brain mushy, it adds empathy”
While I don’t believe in anyone having power to “allow” me to be, I celebrate not having to feel guilty slaying the boardroom just like any room in life.
Q: Any other contribution(s) towards the topic.
A: I pray for a world where women on women is done away with and we support each other’s dream. If gender first branding is pushing the narrative of celebrating, let’s go for it but when the context says otherwise …it’s just entrepreneur, politician, leader …without waving the ‘female here…take note ‘ flag.