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SheTradesZA hub is an online platform that serves as a unique opportunity for women-owned businesses to participate in regional and global value chains and markets.
South Africa: Since the start of democracy government has sought to advance women in our country. We have ensured that both gender equality and women’s empowerment are at the heart of our work, writes Ayanda Holo.
We continue to be on the lookout for initiatives and ideas that could have a lasting impact in growing the economy and empowering women. For instance, recently we hosted the SheTradesZA Youth Webinar which is a global initiative to connect women-owned small and medium businesses with local, regional and international markets.
SheTradesZA hub is an online platform that serves as a unique opportunity for women-owned businesses to participate in regional and global value chains and markets. Similar initiatives have already been launched in many other African countries and have assisted in increasing the participation of women-owned businesses on the continent.
SheTradesZA is also one of the key priorities announced at the State of the Nation Address to assist us in building our economy. In South Africa it was launched by the Department for Small Business Development (DSBD) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), in partnership with the International Trade Centre to address trade barriers and create greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
In her opening address, Regomoditswe Mavimbela who is the DDG: Content Processing and Dissemination at GCIS stressed the importance of investing in women saying it is one of the most effective development tools of our time to both uplift women and the children of our nation. She encouraged participants to use hybrid gatherings to learn from each other by exchanging valuable viewpoints and find lasting solutions to the challenges facing our economy, especially women empowerment.
In South Africa, SheTrades aims to provide at least 50 000 women-owned businesses with a unique network and platform to connect to markets by 2023. Through this initiative, government supports women entrepreneurs to access new markets, and networks and grow their businesses. For instance, about 10,000 South African women entrepreneurs are currently receiving free e-learning and capacity building over a period of four years, while nearly 3000 women entrepreneurs are registered on the SheTradesZA Hub.
Addressing the SheTradesZA Youth Webinar, the Minister of Small Business Development, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams reiterated that government would continue to create a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive so that they are assisted in creating jobs. She encouraged women owned small business in townships and rural areas to apply for support through the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (TREP). The maximum value of TREP is R1 million, with one component being a grant and the other a loan.
She added that R2 billion SEFA funding envelope will be distributed to provinces to support 84 831 small, micro and medium enterprises and co-operatives creating 104 968 jobs. Other opportunities that government has made available to ensure the participation of women in the economy include the launch of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Strategy to ensure women become active participants in the Energy Sector
Furthermore, the National Empowerment Fund accelerates the provision of funding to businesses owned by black women while its iMbewu Fund supports black women entrepreneurs. We also have the SheTradeZA Hub, which helps women entrepreneurs increase their international competitiveness and connects them to national, regional and global markets.
To reaffirm our commitment to the empowerment of women, the Women Economic Assembly that facilitates the participation of women-owned businesses in core areas of the economy was launched. We are also driving the economic inclusion of women through public procurement by setting aside at least 40 per cent of goods and services procured by public entities for women-owned businesses.
However, despite our best efforts, gender inequality persists with more women than men mired in poverty and unemployment. Speakers called on all of us to come together as a nation to ensure that women realise their full potential, while also ensuring that we create a conducive environment for equal participation in the economy.
During the webinar, Liya Cherian, a specialist of export development at SEDA explained that for businesses to be registered in SheTradesZA Hub they must at least be 51 per cent owned, managed and controlled by women. The business should also be 50 per cent owned by a South African, not be a subsidiary of another company or a franchise business and participants must be directly involved in the day-to-day running of the business.
Furthermore, she emphasised that preference is given to the government priority sectors and designated groups.
The NYDA CEO, Waseem Carrim stressed the importance of the informal sector and SMMEs in growing the economy and creating jobs. In particular, he highlighted that small businesses often struggle to access markets and that they should be assisted to ensure that they thrive.
This SheTradesZA Youth Webinar once again highlighted that inclusive economic growth cannot be realised without the active participation of women. South Africans, in particular women and young people with an aptitude for business are encouraged to seize the opportunity and start their own small businesses.
*Ayanda Holo is South Africa”s Government Communications Director: International Media Relations