Q&A Lucy Balimba | Founder & MD: Entelo Strategic Communications 22 November 2023
Title: Empathy in Entrepreneurship: Paving the Way for Socioeconomic Transformation
In a world dominated by profit margins and bottom lines, Entelo stands out as a beacon of change, embracing empathy as a strategic tool in problem-solving issues of socioeconomic importance. As an impact-conscious strategic communications company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Entelo is dedicated to advancing positive socioeconomic outcomes for Africa by working with impact-focused leaders and institutions. In this opinion editorial, we explore the journey of the founder and delve into the critical role empathy plays in the business landscape.
My journey as a female-owned business in South Africa.
Embarking on my entrepreneurial journey four years ago was a leap of faith and determination. The initial years were a test of resilience, and I vividly recall a pivotal moment in my second year that reshaped my approach to business. Year two marked a crucial juncture when I sought financial support from my bank and my funding application was declined. This was more than a financial setback; it was a turning point that prompted deep introspection. What were the missing pieces in my business puzzle that made traditional financial institutions hesitant to invest in my vision?
As I share my experience, it is my hope that fellow entrepreneurs find solace and inspiration in the shared struggles and triumphs. The entrepreneurial path is one of continuous learning, adaptation, and resilience. In the vibrant mosaic of South Africa’s business landscape, our stories, though unique, weave together to create a narrative of tenacity, growth, and the relentless pursuit of success.
#FundHer: Navigating the financial landscape for women entrepreneurs
For the past four years, my business has been entirely self-funded, a common narrative for many women entrepreneurs across Africa. While the journey has been marked by the fortune of securing significant projects, it also sheds light on the persistent challenges women face in accessing traditional funding channels. This story is not unique; it mirrors the broader struggle of women entrepreneurs seeking financial support for their ventures.
A pivotal aspect of my entrepreneurial journey through the #FundHer initiative is the financial lessons women often encounter as barriers to securing financial products. The emphasis on meticulous planning, intricacies in pricing structures to strategic investment decisions, underscore the importance of financial acumen for entrepreneurs across Africa, particularly for women. This gave me an opportunity to zoom into the aspects that I was missing when I attempted to apply for a loan with my bank two years ago. These aspects included how I record and manage my finances. I have learned that digital accounting software tools can assist you with efficient financial management, compliance, and pricing structure.
Visibility of Informal and Formal Challenges
The founder views #FUNDHER as a solution to promoting sustainable and inclusive access for women to be active participants in the mainstream economy in South Africa. This initiative recognizes the intersectionality of informal and formal business activities, acknowledging the nuanced barriers that women encounter. This visibility is crucial in fostering a comprehensive understanding of the landscape and tailoring solutions that directly address the unique needs of women navigating the entrepreneurial landscape. The founder’s experience of self-funding for four years highlights the need for such initiatives to bridge the funding gap and empower women entrepreneurs.
Overcoming Challenges as Women-Led Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs)
The journey for women in business is a symphony of strength, resilience, and untapped potential. Reflecting on the collective challenges faced, it becomes evident that one key obstacle is often our reluctance to celebrate ourselves and be more visible in spaces where we feel particularly uncomfortable. We undervalue the incredible accomplishments (big or small) we achieve, downplaying the impact we make in our communities without receiving accolades or validation to boost our confidence. It’s time to break free from this modesty and celebrate the victories, no matter how small.
The question echoes loudly: Why aren’t we seizing these opportunities with both hands? There’s a saying that resonates deeply: “You cannot conquer what you entertain” says the founder. It’s a mantra that calls for a radical shift in mindset.
Business Goals and Secrets to Success
“I saw a need for empathy as a strategic tool in problem-solving for issues of socioeconomic importance. At Entelo, we are deeply invested in advancing more positive socioeconomic outcomes for Africa by working with impact-focused leaders and institutions to proliferate their value propositions” says the founder.
Entelo’s three business goals – growth, portfolio consolidation, and business sustainability – reflect a commitment to long-term success. The founder attributes success to a growth mindset, embracing failure as a means of learning, and creating meaningful work. These principles are valuable lessons for entrepreneurs at any stage of their journey.
A vision for the future
In parting, the founder’s message to women entrepreneurs is a powerful call to action. The world needs their unique perspectives, and their presence in the business landscape is not just valuable but necessary. Let us show up as the answer to the challenges we face, armed with empathy, resilience, and a determination to make a positive impact.
Entelo’s journey is not just a business success story; it’s a testament to the transformative power of empathy in entrepreneurship. As we celebrate the achievements of Entelo, let us also reflect on the broader implications of their work – a blueprint for businesses that seek not only financial success but also a positive impact on society.