Have you come up with innovative strategies to accelerate your business?

Who: Young women entrepreneur startups
Ages: 18 – 35
From: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini, Botswana.

Award Ceremony will be held in Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Closing date for entries 30 September 2024


In South Africa, Finfind engaged a sample of 15,000 SMMEs from its database of 400,000 businesses with almost 10% completing the survey. The Impact Report analyses data from these 1,489 SMMEs which includes representation across all sectors in all provinces.

While the outlook for the future is largely uncertain for SMMEs in South Africa, 76.7% of the business owners who were able to remain open, are optimistic about being able to survive in 2021. Only 32%, however, believe that they will be able to create new jobs – a significant alarm bell during an unprecedented unemployment crisis.
The report reveals several key challenges commonly faced by the SMME sector in South Africa during lockdown: Existing debt; lack of cash reserves; no access to relief funding; an inability to operate during the lockdown; and outdated financial information, being some of the key factors causing the closure of 42.7% of small businesses. Surprisingly, only 43% of businesses that closed had applied for COVID-19 relief funding, with 99.9% of these funding applications being rejected.

There was a 60% loss of full-time employees, and a 76.8% reduction of part-time employment in the first five months of the pandemic. Of all the SMMEs surveyed, 59.7% were unable to trade during lockdown level 5. More than 75% of all business experienced a significant decrease in revenue from the end of March to August. Only 35% of the SMMEs had cash reserves at the start of lockdown, with more than half of these being able to sustain themselves for between one and three months at most.

Prior debt was a major contributor to closures, with 66% of businesses that closed having debt before Covid-19, and half of these having outdated management accounts. These factors pose problems for businesses even in the best of times, but during the pandemic, they became critical causes of business failure.

Our Judges

Precious Gondwe

Precious Gondwe

Precious Masuku-Gondwe is a Pan-African corporate lawyer & Founding Partner of Precious & Partners based in Botswana.

Monalisa Sibongile Zwambila

Monalisa Zwambila

Monalisa Sibongile Zwambila is the CEO and founder of Riverbed, South Africa’s leading black female-owned agency, which she founded in 2007.

Nicole Sykes

Nicole Sykes

Nicole is managing the FNB Women in Business Niche with the aim to assist female clients with their growth, recognise their successes, and partner with them to increase their ability to influence.
Lara Rosmarin

Lara Rosmarin

Lara is the head of Entrepreneur Development and Incubation for CiTi – The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative Africa’s most experienced incubator with a history of 23 years of impact.


Open to Young women entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35.

Women Entrepreneurs

  • Must be a female entrepreneur between the ages of 18 and 35.
  • Should have founded or co-founded a business.
  • The business must be operational for at least one year.
  • Demonstrates innovation and creativity in their business model.
  • Shows significant growth potential and/or impact.
    Contributes to the community and/or economy.
  • Provides clear evidence of overcoming challenges and achieving success.

Social Entrepreneurs

  • Must be an individual between the ages of 18 and 35.
  • Should have founded or co-founded a social enterprise.
  • The social enterprise must be operational for at least one year.
  • Demonstrates a clear social mission and impact.
  • Shows innovative approaches to solving social issues.
  • Has measurable outcomes and positive changes in the community.
  • Demonstrates sustainability and scalability of the social enterprise.

Non-Profit Organisations Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

  • Must be a registered non-profit organization.
  • Focus on supporting women entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35.
  • Have been operational for at least one year.
  • Provides programmes, resources, or services that aid in the development and success of young women entrepreneurs.
  • Demonstrates significant impact and measurable outcomes.
  • Shows innovation in their approach to supporting women entrepreneurs.
  • Evidence of partnerships or collaborations that enhance their support efforts.

Corporations Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

  • Must be a registered corporation.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35.
  • Provides programmes, funding, mentorship, or resources specifically targeted at young women entrepreneurs.
  • Shows measurable impact and success stories of the entrepreneurs they have supported.
  • Has a strategic approach to fostering entrepreneurship among young women.
  • Engages in partnerships or initiatives that enhance the support ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.
  • Demonstrates corporate social responsibility and alignment with gender equality goals.

Enter now

Should your entry be successful, you will be invited for a virtual interview between 22-24 October 2024

Who: Young women entrepreneur startups
From: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini, Botswana

If other, please specify
Your motivation should include:
  • Business Description: Details of the company and what it does. How sustainable is the business?
  • Market Analysis: Characteristics of the market and description of its customers. Is there a genuine need for the product or service?
  • Product or Service Analysis: The specifics of the product or service. Feasibility of product or service. Is there a presence of potential substitutes for the product? Is there an ability to operate competitively and grow sustainably?
  • Management: Entrepreneur and team – experience and skills required for the operation. Depth and breadth of the team's capabilities
You may upload pdf, doc, png, jpg, xls and zip. (Size limit 10MB)


We would like to hear from you.