De Beers Group and United Nations Entity for Women for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women South Africa have launched a capacity-building programme to support 500 women micro-entrepreneurs in the communities of Blouberg and Musina, near De Beers’ Venetia Mine in Limpopo.
The key objective of the programme is to equip women micro-entrepreneurs with business management and life skills to build their confidence and capacity to operate and grow successful small businesses.
The programme will provide training to enhance understanding of business concepts including accessing markets, increasing market share, generating income, creating jobs, and supporting effective decision-making, communication and negotiation skills.
Blouberg and Musina municipalities have some of the highest levels of unemployment in Limpopo, with young girls and women in these communities being disproportionately disadvantaged in accessing opportunities to improve their livelihoods and reduce poverty.
The programme has the potential to deliver tangible results that support the entire community through the increased economic empowerment of women micro-entrepreneurs.
Mpumi Zikalala, Deputy CEO, De Beers Consolidated Mines, says:
“In each of the areas we have selected, high levels of unemployment persist, and formal job opportunities are limited.
“In this kind of context, micro-enterprises provide an opportunity for income generation to support households, as well as job creation that can benefit a community more broadly.
“When we empower women business owners, we empower entire communities as women are more likely to reinvest a greater portion of their profits into the community and actively support the creation of jobs for others.
“However, women micro-entrepreneurs find it difficult to access conventional mechanisms that support business growth and that is where this programme will play a crucial role.
“We are very proud to announce this programme as we celebrate Women’s Month in South Africa, and to partner with UN Women in making it happen.”
Anne Shongwe, UN Women Representative, South Africa Multi-Country Office, says:
“While many programmes exist to support entrepreneurs, it is important to consider the unique challenges that women micro-entrepreneurs in particular face.
“Women micro-entrepreneurs do not always have the liberty to create boundaries between their personal and business needs or interests.
“They are often the engine that keeps their businesses running – as the only brains and the hands of the businesses – with immense responsibilities in their households.
“With the limited earnings from businesses, they raise families and make valuable contributions to their communities and the country. These women need a hand up.
“This programme aims to build the business management skills through uniquely customised training and hand-holding that address the specific capacity challenges of micro-entrepreneurs”.
De Beers Group and UN Women are working with the municipalities and local stakeholders to finalise the preliminary phase of the programme.
The capacity-building model will use a ‘train the trainer’ approach whereby local trainers will be trained by the De Beers and UN Women teams to offer ongoing support to the programme participants to implement skills gained, build access to peer support, and gradually reduce support from the programme to ensure self-sustenance.
Sixteen local trainers have been identified, eight of which are from the Blouberg and Musina municipalities.
The Training the Trainers workshops will be held in October 2018, with the training of the first women micro-entrepreneurs to take place in November 2018.
The first group of micro-entrepreneurs to be trained will consist of 60 enterprises that include retail, catering, agriculture, spaza shops and manufacturing businesses.
The programme is part of De Beers Group’s three-year global partnership with UN Women and its commitment to stand with women around the world.
De Beers Group is investing US$3 million to advance women micro-entrepreneurs and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students in its diamond producing countries of Canada, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
In addition, as a UN Women HeForShe Thematic Champion, De Beers Group has committed to achieving parity in the appointment of women and men into senior leadership roles in its own organisation, as well as ensuring the company’s brands are a positive force for gender equality through all its marketing campaigns.