GIVING WOMEN THE POWER

Coca Cola’s 5by20 initiative is a global commitment by the beverage giant to economically empower five million female entrepreneurs by 2020.


In a joint partnership with United Nation’s Women (UN Women) and a local non-profit organisation Hand in Hand, a drive to give women the skills they need to run successful enterprises in the informal sector has been underway since last year.


South Africa is one of three countries, including Egypt and Brazil, where this pilot partnership to economically empower and create employment got off the ground last year.


About 4 500 female entrepreneurs in the Gauteng and North West region have to date received business skills training. These include daily record keeping, marketing and budgeting, business plan development and an understanding of markets.


UN Women South Africa’s Deputy Representative and Officer-in-Charge Sadiq Syed says the partnership will assist in addressing common barriers that hamper female entrepreneurs from accessing economic empowerment and simultaneously alleviate society’s social ills, including unemployment.

“We are looking at the issue of why women are not having access to funds. We are conducting a study to investigate the reasons why these funds are not reachable”

Coca Cola’s Public Affairs and Communications Director Vukani Maqubane says the three-year business training will cost R16,2 million in South Africa and an overall of R48,9 million globally.

The Department of Trade and Industry’s Chief Director – Gender and Women Empowerment Nomvula Makgotlho says this programme responds to government’s challenges: “We are sitting with this challenge of how do we empower, recognise and acknowledge the informal sector. How do we ensure the informal sector is located at the core of the economy of South Africa?”


FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS STILL CAN’T ACCESS FUNDING


Although government has a number of funding incentives for female entrepreneurs, there is a concern that most women are unable to access to them.


The United Nation’s Resident Co-ordinator for South Africa Dr Agostinho Zacharias says funding is still a big challenge facing female entrepreneurs.


“We are looking at the issue of why women are not having access to funds. We are conducting a study to investigate the reasons why these funds are not reachable,” says Zacharias.


“We are running quite a number of incentive schemes in the Department of Trade and Industry whereby you find people accessing those schemes, in most cases in the form of money. They take the money, do what must be done and the business dies tomorrow,” says Makgotlho. “The money has been chowed, we say we have disbursed this amount of billions in terms of incentive schemes, but on the contrary the result on the ground gives a different picture”.


Makgotlho says there is a tendency to think business is money and that if you inject money into a business it will survive.


“We have research that has proved that it is not about money. Some businesses especially small businesses have money, but have no access to markets,” she explains.


Deputy Director General for the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Thandeka Mxenge says in addition to challenges of accessing markets, many women in the informal sector struggle with pricing their products correctly.


“They sell their goods at very cheap prices and as a result they are not able to make enough money. So initiatives like these are quite useful because this is one of the areas in which women can be assisted,” says Mxenge.


The next phase of the 5by20 campaign is to extend the business training model to committed and deserving women in the rest of the country’s provinces, including the rural areas.


One entrepreneurs who has benefited from the pilot project is Ngoetsana Sehlabo who owns a fast food tuck shop in Orange Farm. Sehlabo told DESTINY that since starting the weekly business skills training last year she is running her 10-year-old business very differently to how she did in the past.


“I have learnt the importance of having a  business plan, savings, and doing book keeping. Before, the money I made from selling bunny chows at my tuck shop went into my pocket and I would buy my children nice things. But now I save the money to buy new stock and keep the business going,” she says.


Another beneficiary of the programme Maphefo Ramatseba, an entrepreneur from Meadowlands in Soweto says she has learnt to price her products well, how to give her customers good service and how to market her business effectively. source www.destiny.co.za

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