KZN businesswomen making strides in key economic sectors

The integration of women in the formal economy across a variety of sectors without hindrance will have far reaching effects for the overall economy of the country, says Ithala Development Finance Corporation.

It is against this conviction that Ithala hosted the annual Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business Awards, a public platform which acknowledges exceptional businesswomen.

As an agency mandated to promote development, Ithala provides an enabling environment for female entrepreneurs in KZN who require access to finance and the resources to grow.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government’s agenda to accelerate radical economic transformation, promote financial inclusivity and the broader National Development Plan to advance youth and women, is fully supported at the highest levels of Ithala.

The top three women of Ithala’s flagship programme, Imbokodo Iyazenzela or “Women doing it for themselves”, were felicitated at a gala dinner in Durban last night (25 October).

Of the 145 entries received, 20 finalists were nominated by women who attended the series of Imbokodo workshops held across KZN and were subject to final adjudication by an independent panel. The winner walked away with R35 000 while the first runner up bagged R20 000 and the second runner up scooped R15 000.

In addition, mentorship and coaching will be provided on a formal and regular basis to help improve businesses and make them sustainable. The top 20 finalists in the 2017 programme are currently undergoing mentorship and coaching with Cutting Edge Business Solutions.

Londiwe Ngcobo of Andimahle Building and Events was declared the overall winner followed by Ncane Moshwane of Mgijimu Chemicals in second position and Busi Molefe of BBS Farm in third place.

A recent McKinsey Global Institute report found that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. McKinsey’s “Power of Parity Study” also confirmed that women’s economic contribution globally is around 37% of the GDP with African women contributing 39% to GDP which is slightly above the average.

“The need for women to be at the forefront of transformation and participate in the mainstream economy cannot be emphasised,” said Sitandiwe Dimba, Ithala’s Corporate Social Investment Co-ordinator.

“There is a growing class of women entrepreneurs doing phenomenal work in key economic sectors. We need only tap into their potential and provide the necessary resources and support to set them on the path of success.”

“The programme was designed with a vision to empower women from all walks of life with the necessary skills, knowledge and opportunities to enable their progress,” said Dimba.

Driving SMME and cooperative development over the next five years is one of the key strategic goals of Ithala. Over the past three years, Ithala has disbursed R878 600 000 to nearly 700 businesses, resulting in over 8 000 jobs being created. Of these, 28% are women-owned businesses and young people comprise nearly 40% of those on Ithala’s loan book.

According to the Real State of Entrepreneurship Survey 2017, the gap in entrepreneurial participation between male and female entrepreneurs is narrowing – possibly an indication that initiatives to address the gender imbalance in entrepreneurship have started to pay dividends.

Andimahle Building and Events in Pietermaritzburg is a 100% black-owned events company serving the large events industry. As suppliers of marquees catering for up to 10 000 people and big events décor material, the annual Essence Festival hosted by eThekwini municipality is among the many big hitting projects to be added to their portfolio of clients.

Andimahle has extended business operations in the construction industry. Currently a sports field is being built in Kokstad and the company has also embarked on road construction and renovation in parts of KZN. Apart from affording 26 employees a living, the company prides itself in the sponsorship of learners to obtain their drivers licence and university degrees.

Mgijimu chemicals is a supplier of cleaning materials to schools in Harding on Durban’s South Coast and the wider community. The co-operative of 18 women manufactures cleaning detergents such as dishwashing liquid, fabric softeners, cleaning concentrates and floor polish.

BBS Farm in Port Shepstone is a producer of tomatoes and macadamia nuts. The farm has 20 registered permanent employees and several casual workers. Products have been on the shelves of retail outlets such as Pick ‘n Pay and Spar and the company recently gained access to markets in China, Europe, America and Asia where their produce is sold.

Ithala’s Business Finance portfolio caters for small and medium industrial and commercial businesses as well as agricultural enterprises, tourism ventures, co-operatives and building contractors.

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