Women in South African township communities may depend on entrepreneurial activities for a livelihood for themselves and their families. While this group has traditionally faced particular barriers, notably access to finance and networking opportunities , they form the pillars of society and have learned, developed and adapted specific strengths and skills which enable them to achieve success. These strengths can be named as resourcefulness, willingness and ability to learn new skills (e.g. sewing) and to invest intangible resources such as time and labour to whatever extent needed, as well as organisational skills, managing both the everyday life of family and work. It is noteworthy that many NGOs addressing issues of poverty, nutrition and healthcare in the townships prefer to work with women in the communities rather then men. This is an implicit recognition that change may be brought about in these communities through interventions centred on women, often specifically mothers.
The role of women as a mother is therefore one of greater risk, but also greater strength. Their situation in business reflects the position of women in South African society, which again may be seen from the outside as a position of weakness. At the same time, the role of women in the family and society has started to change and be looked at with more acknowledgement, respect and appreciation. In this course, support provided by the government and NGOs has increased and strengthened the position of women and thus society. Eva Vogel completed a study of women entrepreneurs in South African townships as part of her Masters thesis in 2010. Dr Sheila Killian supervised her thesis.