Women in the construction and related industries not only face discrimination while working for existing firms, but also when starting their own businesses, says Mercantile Bank.
A recent study conducted on behalf of the institution found that 67% of female business owners surveyed in the construction sector face business challenges because of their gender.
Half of the female entrepreneurs surveyed in this sector also feel that there is not enough support for women-owned businesses.
The number of female business owners in the construction sector who face gender-specific challenges is significantly higher than in other sector, says Mercantile Bank specialised markets head Dalene Sechele-Manana.
“Media reports have drawn attention to issues around gender in the civil engineering industry, but Mercantile found that this also extends to female entrepreneurs within the construction space.
“All entrepreneurs face challenges, but this means that female business owners also have to overcome additional barriers.”
Sechele-Manana says the bank believes that women entrepreneurs across all sectors need greater support.
“We often hear about the need to create an environment conducive to growing small and medium-sized businesses. This not only means addressing challenges like access to finance and skills, but also boldly addressing challenges like gender discrimination.”
The Mercantile Bank survey was conducted by Digital Republic Consulting among 151 female entrepreneurs who own at least 51% of their business.
It focused mainly on female entrepreneurs from four sectors namely, retail and wholesale, construction, manufacturing and professional services.
Mercantile business and commercial bank was founded in South Africa in 1965 and is owned by CaixaGeral de Depósitos, the largest bank in Portugal and a global financial services group with more than 120 years’ banking experience.