Despite government’s policies which ensure the full participation of women in the economy, some South African female entrepreneurs still face challenges that limits their growth. Although there are challenges, government remains committed to the advancement of gender equality and the transformation of the lives of ordinary women in our country.

The South African National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality ensures gender equality is at the centre of the country’s transformation process.

 

In an effort to transform the lives of ordinary women, the Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) has established a Women Empowerment Programme (WEP). The programme seeks to address a number of challenges that women particularly face in the agribusiness sector.

The WEP will be driven by the ADA but it will have a committee that will coordinate activities such as access to land and finance, infrastructure and enterprise development, training and capacity building, to mention a few.

According the WEP draft strategy, which is commissioned by the ADA, these areas need to be addressed in order for women to participate meaningfully in the agribusiness value chain.

The WEP has already hosted activities to kick-start the programme. In February this year, beneficiaries of the programme participated in a consultative sessions to discuss the WEP strategy.

Various stakeholders in government and private sector attended this session to pledge their support on the establishment of this much needed programme.

Speakers included Ms Khosi Nxumalo, Provincial Director for Commission for Gender Equality, Ms Zandile Masuku, Deputy Manager from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Mr Cliff Rasoesoe from Department of Trade and Industry’s Agro Processing Unit, Advocate Pria Hassan, CEO for Women of Africa, Mr Phakamile Madonsela, Regional Manager for National Empowerment Funding (NEF), and Ms Bongi Olusu from Rural Development and Land Reform.

All the stakeholders delivered presentations on programmes that are offered by their organisations to assist women in agribusiness.

Another follow up activity which took place in May2017 was the Funding Workshop which was hosted and facilitated by Advocate Pria Hassan. Advocate Hassan is a women activist and successful business woman who is passionate about seeing women succeed. Upon realising the work that women are doing in their communities, she took it upon herself to volunteer and assist these women through mentorship with the objective of helping them to become successful business women.

The mentorship programme that Hassan runs focuses on ensuring that women are in the right businesses. She will develop their business skills, competencies and networking capabilities.

According to Advocate Hassan, women who inherit businesses from their families sometimes become stuck because it is not something they are passionate about.

“It is great to inherit something, but what you do with it becomes important,” she said.

Through this programme the women will get the opportunity to meet some powerful leaders who started from humble beginnings. The programmes begins with a needs analysis to ensure that women are given what they need. Acquiring business skills has been identified as a priority in the needs analysis while funding is secondary.

This is because one’s business cannot take off without the necessary business skill or with the correct partnerships and knowledge, the ADA is positive about the success of the WEP. A lot of work lies ahead for this Agency which has been entrusted with the responsibility of driving and transforming the agribusiness sector in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.