Unlocking Women’s Business Potential is Key For Our Economy

By Sinazo Mkoko

While gender equality is yet to be achieved globally, efforts by the civic, private and public sector are being made to ensure that women are at the forefront of economic emancipation in South Africa. In October 2022, Stats SA released the Gender Series Volume IX: Women Empowerment, 2017 to 2022 report which showed that there are still gender disparities despite the progressive laws and interventions aimed at women empowerment. Stats SA stated: “Empowerment of women is core to South Africa’s processes of sustainable development. Leaving no one behind means addressing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities.”

Here Public Sector Leaders lists 4 programmes/initiatives aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Women Empowerment Fund (WEF)

Are you a black woman who owns a business or starting one? The WEF could be the answer to your financial problems. The empowerment fund aims to accelerate the provision of funding for businesses. Founded in 2014, the fund has a mission “to affirmatively drive the value and volume of approvals for and disbursement to businesses that are owned and managed by black women.” WEF states that the funding starts from R250 000 to R75-million across a range of sectors, for start-ups, expansions and equity acquisition purposes.They use a number of funding instruments that range from secured (senior debt) to unsecured options (equity), and/or a hybrid of the two in efforts to provide for different transactional needs.  

Isivande Women’s Fund (IWF)

Originally aimed at women, this is an exclusive fund that aims to accelerate black economic empowerment by providing more affordable, usable and responsive finance than is currently available for all black people in business in South Africa. Businesses that require funding between the values of R30 000 to R2-million can apply for the funding. The fund targets “formally registered, that are 50% + 1 share women-owned and/or managed enterprises that have been in existence and operating for at least six months.” 

Cherie Blair Foundation for Women 

The Foundation together with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA), DHL Express and the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust are empowering women entrepreneurs by bringing life-changing programmes to women entrepreneurs in the country. They run investment readiness training programmes such as HerVenture and Road to Growth which are specifically “designed and developed using a gender lens approach in order to support women to claim their rightful space as equal and skilled entrepreneurs.” 

Motsepe Foundation – Women’s Unit

The Women’s Unit of Motsepe Foundation aims to bring together globally influential leaders and grassroots organisations that work with vulnerable women to inspire greater efforts for the advancement of women in leadership and gender equality across all industries. With programmes such as the Gender Responsive Budget (GRB) which aims to improve the results of budgets in general, and gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Foundation focuses on key economic and social matters that are often overlooked or obscured in conventional budget and policy analysis and decision-making.

Sources: SA Gov | WEF | IWF | CBFW |MF