As we approach the commemoration of National Women’s Day, we are reminded of the courageous 20,000 women who marched against discriminatory pass laws 67 years ago. While we celebrate the strides our nation has made, it is imperative we address the pressing need for gender equity in South Africa. In 2022, Stats SA indicated that nearly half of women who are of working age were not active in the labour force compared to 35.6% of their male counterparts who were also economically inactive. A part of the solution towards addressing SA’s gender gap is pioneering gender lens investing (GLI).
Investment specialist and founder of Inyosi Empowerment, Evan Jones, explains that “Gender lens investing is a powerful tool that considers various gender-based factors hindering women’s economic empowerment. This strategic approach to investing typically involves investing in enterprises whose products and services contribute to the betterment of women and girls’ lives, investing in women-led companies, or enterprises that practice equity in the workplace.”
Trusted enterprise and supplier development company, Inyosi Empowerment, walks the talk by implementing GLI in their enterprise and supplier development initiatives. Their commitment is also evident in their 80% female workforce, with women leading key managerial positions. One of their long-standing beneficiaries, in particular, Taking Care of Business (TCB), is making a profound impact on empowering women.
TCB was founded with a clear vision to uplift unemployed mothers through innovative resell, repair, and remake programmes. They equip unemployed mothers to become successful clothing traders, using donations of excess clothing from the retail sector to reduce fashion waste.
TCB exemplifies the essence of GLI as they address a multitude of gender-based obstacles faced by unemployed mothers, alongside access to startup capital. “Over the past 12 years, we have learnt that poverty is multi-dimensional and the road out of poverty is littered with many obstacles. Many mothers who join our programme often bear the weight of trauma, abuse, and the responsibility of caring for themselves, their children, and extended families. We, at TCB, have therefore consciously created an ecosystem that supports change, holistic transformation, and keeps people focused on achieving their goals,” states Tracey Chambers, social entrepreneur, and CEO of TCB.
The impact of TCB’s work extends far beyond empowering mothers. As these mothers earn more, they can provide better livelihoods for their children, thereby sowing the seeds of positive, sustainable growth for future generations.
Inyosi Empowerment’s dedication to providing access to funding, markets, and skills has been invaluable for TCB and numerous other SME’s they have assisted. According to their 2022 Annual Impact Report, they have provided a cumulative R912 million in loan funding to black-owned businesses. Moreover, Inyosi’s efforts have resulted in the creation of 63,177 jobs since 2012, with a focus on empowering black and female employees.
As we celebrate National Women’s Day, let us not forget that gender equity is not just a women’s issue; it is a societal imperative. Inyosi Empowerment and TCB exemplify how businesses that embrace GLI can drive meaningful change for women and have a sustained impact on future generations.