Hanlie Delport, President of the SACBWThe traditional roles for women were as mothers, wives, and homemakers but it is a fact that 42% of children in South Africa are being raised by a single parent (often the mother). Furthermore, the fact the education and health of their children are so important to women that they are prepared to invest about 90% of their income in it (according to the Women’s Report 2023) has also contributed to the fact that more women are looking for opportunities to earn a living.
With the disparity in the workplace still present, women have been turning to their hobbies and skills like cooking and cleaning, to start businesses. Not only is 11.1% of women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activities but women are also responsible for a large chunk of the cross-border trading in Africa!
For this reason, the South African Council for Business Women launched our WEE program in the Piketberg district. This pilot program will be used to identify to top challenges women are facing on the road to being successful in business and we will develop a training program that will assist female entrepreneurs to obtain the skills they need.
In our endeavours we have also started to reach out to other potential partners with skills, access to funding, and mentors that can assist us as we roll out this program.
For the pilot, we identified ladies from the area who have already formulated some ideas around the type of business they want, but now need to knowledge and support to bring their ideas to fruition.
As a Council, we believe that women who are financially empowered will be in a better position to protect themselves and their children against gender-based and family violence. We feel that a woman with the power of money at her disposal can remove herself from a toxic relationship, where her dependence on financial support is reduced or totally removed.
Working with the SBi, chambers of business, and other organised business groups we want to see that women benefit from opportunities. Building up their confidence to take risks and try their hand at business will be important, but so will it be finding funders that will invest in the start-up businesses.
Mentorship is important in this process as the sustainability of many new businesses becomes a problem as soon as the support system changes. We therefore also encourage established business owners to partner with a start-up to ensure that they find their feet.
It is the vision of the Council that we will have at least one WEE project registered in the active provinces by the end of 2024. Since the Women’s Report also found that SMEs are providing 80% of total employment in South Africa, we believe this will make a definite contribution to building up our economy.