Women entrepreneurs and small business owners face an unfair dynamic that their male counterparts are protected from – balancing parenthood and the huge demands of running a business. Two small business owners share their experience of sustaining the balancing act.
Women led businesses have a unique impact on society. They tend to be community orientated, are characterised by a strong work ethic and prioritise the needs of the customer over profit. Despite this, mom-preneurs often experience the world of business in a manner that is molded by the expectations and obligations placed on their gender by societal norms.
The founder of Xcelent Crunchies & Homebakes Jacqueline Julie started selling crunchies 28 years ago to generate an income as a single mother. Her home-baking business, which she officialised in 2018, has survived many hurdles over the years, as she had to balance raising her kids with the demands of the business.
“Identifying priorities is important for me. I am very intentional about separating business and family time. I try not to allow business to infringe on family time,” says Julie. “For the business to grow, one cannot wear too many hats (within the business). My main focus is on the areas where the business needs to grow and I delegate the rest,” she adds.
Nuraan Jamaludeen is the founder of FoodServ Halaal Foods, a 100% Halaal catering business based in Bloemfontein. She started her business after spotting a unique opportunity in her area. Since 2014, Jamaludeen has navigated the business through ground breaking experiences while keeping to her commitments as a mother. She believes that women-led businesses have a unique impact on the overall business ecosystems that anchor communities and the economy.
“Women are statistically known to have more empathy and compassion, even more so when they have children or for anyone they are responsible to care for. Women are seen as care-givers and have the natural ability to address human resource challenges that occur within the spaces they operate in,” says Jamaludeen.
“Women are community-driven and hire people who share the same goal-orientated mindset,” she adds.
Julie’s Excelent Crunchies is run by stay-at-home moms who have dedicated their resources to ensure that the business thrives. The company punches well above its weight, succeeding in securing big name clients such as Mweb, Sanlam, Eskom and Lavazza (based at the V&A Waterfront).
Her biggest priority is ensuring the consistency of her business through sustaining her team’s work ethic. One of her greater plans is to create a replicable business model that can empower more women in her community to start similar businesses.
“Studying and growing in the areas where one lacks is crucial. Having a mentor is key to accelerating growth. Collaborating and meeting with peers helps to keep one motivated when times get tough,” she says.
“Taking care of one’s health and setting time aside regularly for personal growth can be very beneficial in the long term,” she adds.
Jamaludeen’s business drive and courage has propelled her enterprise to challenge the status quo in the catering services space that is dominated by well established enterprises. Her grit has afforded her the opportunity to work on projects that would have ordinarily been awarded to longer serving competitors.
FoodServ Halaal Foods is a preferred Halaal supplier to big name corporate companies including Supersport International, SABC, MTN and Vodacom regional offices, as well as the Office of The Chief Justice in Bloemfontein.
One of Jamaludeen’s goals is to produce food products that can be made available to the broader public through big chain retailers. She believes that her enterprise can empower men, women and disabled people in rural communities.
“Being able to employ people is one of the greatest accomplishments I have had. Through this business, I am able to improve the standard of living in a small but powerful way. Ensuring that less people are going to bed hungry is a huge accomplishment that I strive to maintain,” says Jamaludeen.
“I am proud that I can give another human being a salary or even teach someone some of the skills I have learned over time, so they too can become entrepreneurs and play their part in reducing unemployment,” she adds.
The joys and challenges of being a mother and a small business owner have fueled both Julie and Jamaludeen to reach for their dreams and achieve the unattainable.
“My biggest business accomplishment is making the decision to pursue my passion after being a stay at home mom for 20 years. Proving that mothers can raise their kids and run a successful business,” says Julie.
“Fear of failure is natural. Fear has taught me many lessons. I also try to observe and learn from other businesses’ in the same industry to avoid making the same mistakes that they’ve made,” concludes Jamaludeen.