Africa’s first permanent FQ Lounge-the Home of Equality opens in Johannesburg to support female entrepreneurs

FQ Lounge

On the first day of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, South Africa’s first permanent FQ Lounge-the Home of Equality at an innovation hub was unveiled at Impact Hub Johannesburg today at an event supported by UN Women, SAP Next-Gen and The Female Quotient. 

Violence continues to take an immense toll on women and their livelihoods, with studies showing women that have been victims of violence who miss work as a result of injuries earn up to 70% less than non-abused women. In a recent UN Women report, only 63% of women aged 25-54 were found to be active participants in the labour force, compared to 94% of men in the same age bracket.

FQ Lounge-the Home of Equality at The Impact Hub Johannesburg

Impact Hub Johannesburg CEO Thandi Allin Dyani said they worked to ensure the FQ Lounge has a distinctly African identity. “The first step to the empowerment of women and female leadership is to create a space that feels like home, where South African role models can be made and seen. This lounge will provide an important platform for discussions around women in social entrepreneurship, including matters relating to breaking down gender barriers in business, creating networks and opportunities, work-life balance, and closing funding gaps. Overall we believe this could help improve the overall ecosystem for local women entrepreneurs.”

Impact Hub Johannesburg is part innovation lab, part business incubator and part community centre, and offers members a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration and collaboration opportunities to drive impact. Impact Hub Johannesburg forms part of a global network of more than 11 000 members in 77 locations, all aiming to foster social innovation through collaboration to create sustainable impact.

World Bank data shows Africa has the highest growth rate of female-run businesses in the world, with a gradual increase in female entrepreneurs over the past few years. However, many women remain locked out of economic opportunities that all too often remain reserved for men.

Equality is an economic imperative

According to Kwena Mabotja, Africa Director for SAP Next-Gen, there is a great economic imperative to fostering greater workplace equality. “Research shows that reducing workplace inequalities over the next 20 years could add 6% to global GDP. However, there are still several obstacles to achieving true workplace equality within African organisations. In line with our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, SAP Next-Gen has partnered with UN Women, Impact Hub Johannesburg, and The Female Quotient to establish the FQ Lounge right in the economic heart of Africa – Johannesburg. This furthers our progress with achieving SDG 5, which aims to end discrimination against women while also providing opportunities for decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).”

The FQ Lounges concept was created by The Female Quotient, an SAP-partnered organisation that aims to advance workplace equality through collaboration, activating solutions for change, and creating measurements for accountability. With the support of SAP Next-Gen, the organisation will bring pop-up FQ Lounges to several locations across the country. The one at Impact Hub Johannesburg, however, is designed to be a permanent destination for regular events throughout the year.

“Our agenda focus for 2020 will be mostly on enabling discussions among women leaders around disrupting the entrepreneurial sector,” said Mabotja. “It’s important that we consider carefully how to include and mobilise our youth. We also want to explore avenues for women to be economically independent, and to showcase some of our female entrepreneur role models that will inspire the next generation of female innovators and business leaders.”