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SA women edge up the entrepreneurship index

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While South Africa has made progress in reducing the gender bias for women engaging in early stage entrepreneurial activities, the number of women business owners remains constrained by a lack of entrepreneurial intent.

South Africa moves up one place from last year to rank 22nd (score of 64.2) on the Index, which tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments. The index uses three components made up of 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 57 economies around the world differ in terms of the level of Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors.

Despite a healthy MIWE score, women account for only 18.8 percent of business owners in South Africa (rank 42), indicating that their progress in entrepreneurship has been disappointingly low compared to other countries measured. Ghana (46.4 percent) ranks first in the world with the highest number of women business owners, followed by Russia (34.6 percent), Uganda (33.8 percent), New Zealand (33 percent) and Australia (32.1 percent).

“Today, women entrepreneurs play an increasingly vital role – socially, professionally and economically – in driving the South Africa economy. However, they remain underrepresented among the ranks of entrepreneurs. This discrepancy is not just a gender issue, it is an issue of economic growth which needs to be addressed,” says Mark Elliott, division president of Mastercard, Southern Africa.

South Africa moved up six places from 30th in 2017 to 24th in the “Women’s Advancement Outcome” component, which measures women’s progress and degree of marginalisation as business leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs and labour force participants. This was fueled by an increase in the Women Entrepreneurial Activity Rate Indicator in 2018, which saw a narrowing of the gender gap with 5.9 percent of working age women in the labour force engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activities compared to 8.4 percent for men. However, the actual percentage of females engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activities decreased by 15.7 percent year-on-year, while for males, it declined by a significant 27.6 percent.

“This parallels a persistent trend of low entrepreneurial intention and activity in South Africa and is not surprising given that the country experienced several economic and political headwinds in 2016 and 2017,” says Elliott. “An accelerated and concerted focus on improving entrepreneurial skills, business opportunities, access to funding, as well as promoting entrepreneurship as a respectable career for women to dismantle negative social and cultural perceptions will foster a more enabling environment for women entrepreneurs.”

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South Africa excels in the “Knowledge Assets and Financial Access” component (score 84.3, rank 6), which gauges women’s progress and degree of marginalisation as financial customers and academically in terms of tertiary education enrollment. Not only are women as well-educated as their male counterparts in tertiary education, they have near-equal access (99 percent) to financial services to men. On the downside, women were affected by a decline in support for Small and Medium Enterprises, including availability of finance, training and development programmes for women.

South Africa slid two places from 31st (score of 62.4) in 2017 to 33rd in 2018 (score of 60.6) in the “Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions” component of the Index, which benchmarks how supportive entrepreneurial conditions are as enablers or constraints of women business ownership. While South Africa performs moderately for ease of doing business and for quality of governance, it scores lower for cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial supporting factors.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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