Partnerships Towards Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs

UN Women - Africa

UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office supported by NAMA Women Enterprise implements flagship program, Promotion of equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs, which focuses on removing the structural barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. Because of these barriers, women-owned companies are largely unable to capitalize on government spending and international sourcing. The flagship program responds to the gap in women’s access to procurement markets and addresses the key barriers faced by buyers and entrepreneurs.

In 2019, UN Women worked with the Amathole District Municipality and other partners in the Eastern Cape province to design and implement high-impact incubation and capacity building programs in the procurement ecosystem as part of the flagship program. A critical component of the increasing involvement of women-owned businesses in procurement has been the creation of support mechanisms to ensure an environment in which they can thrive. These mechanisms include training, conferences, networking opportunities, and mentoring programs that help women-owned businesses access opportunities within the district and nationally.

With support from UN Women, the Amathole District Municipality increased its procurement spending on women-owned businesses from 4 percent to 38 percent in nine months in 2020, with spending currently at 45 percent in 2022. This tremendous success followed local government action to speed up access to public procurement for women-owned businesses. UN Women has also partnered with the Amathole District Municipality and E-Watchdog, a non-profit organization, to help women entrepreneurs and cooperatives strengthen their capacity to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to COVID-19.

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UN Women has continued the partnership with Amathole District Municipality and Ewatchdog by training local business development officers and local women’s organizations in Start and Improve Your Business, an initiative of the International Labor Organisation. This initiative has successfully trained 10 trainers who will extend the training to local entrepreneurs and to date has reached 347 entrepreneurs who aim to train 1250 by the end of 2022. UN Women is also working in partnership with Tshwane University of Technology to train 35 women contractors in entrepreneurship and the use of materials for innovative building technology (IBT).

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On a recent visit to the Amathole District Municipality, we spoke to some of the beneficiaries of the capacity-building programs and they had the following to say:

Phumeza Kate, entrepreneur in the construction industry: “I ventured into Innovative Building Technology through UN Women and Amathole. We have formed a cooperative with 9 other women and are now registered. We are currently based in the Eastern Cape but our Co-op is looking to international markets. We will start here at home, but we will grow. Before joining this program, I thought I knew about construction. This program changes, among other things, our way of thinking and our approach in the field of marketing, legal aspects. What I can say to other women: You must be ready and willing to learn. We have to take advantage of these opportunities because they sharpen you and push you to do things right.”

Sivu Giba, filmmaker and entrepreneur in the film and media industry: “Even though my company has been in existence for eight years, I have found that there are many loopholes in the business. This training program taught me how to approach sustainability, how to grow, how to manage finance and how to market the business. I saw different dynamics in the company’s approach to marketing and considered an international market. The multimedia and film industry is very male-dominated. I wanted to show that anyone can do whatever job they want. Don’t be afraid to show your interests, talents, ideas and expressions to other young women who want to work in film and media. Take every opportunity to get up and get it. Be confident, be bold and just do it.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.

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