Investigating the factors hindering the entry of Black women into the petroleum industry was the aim of the research conducted by Master of Business Administration cum laude graduate, Ms Thandi Ngxongo.

The study titled: Transformation in the Petroleum Retail Business: A Case of African Black Women Ownership of Engen Service Stations in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, focused on Black women’s entry into owning Engen service stations in the province while ensuring that those who are already in the system survive.

‘Too many Black females battle to break into male dominated industries such as the petroleum retail industry,’ said Ngxongo,

‘They struggle to access funding from financial institutions which is necessary for their business to survive as they do not have inheritance or enough savings to access this industry. Secondly, those who are able to pass the finance stage and get funding often find themselves with yet another challenge. They do not have enough experience to handle the pressures of this industry and the complexity of running this business which runs twenty four-hours a day and incorporates different business streams.’

As a Chemical Engineer, Ngxongo says studying for an MBA has empowered her valuable insights to enhance her management and leadership skills in this technical field.

‘The findings of this study might inform policy makers in terms of how best to increase women participation in this business industry and other male dominated industries, thereby closing the gender gap in this regard. This will have an impact to the society, in terms of gender based injustices. I believe that South Africa has enough for all its people, irrespective of gender association and therefore economic equality. Economic and social justice is something that is achievable if we all stand up and add our solution-driven voices to it,’ said Ngxongo.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo 

Photograph: Rogan Ward