Men­tors, mas­ter classes help fe­male en­trepreneurs grow skills

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Siya Miti

a Busi­Ness Devel­oP­meNT pro­gramme has been set up in the East­ern Cape to make sure small en­ter­prises are well man­aged and ready for long-term growth.

ade­vel­op­ment pro­gramme in the East­ern Cape aims to open up busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for women-led small en­ter­prises.

The pro­gramme, run by the East­ern Cape Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (ECDC) and the Uiten­hage Despatch Devel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive (UDDI), re­cently saw 19 par­tic­i­pants grad­u­ate from nine months of in­ten­sive train­ing.

The graduation cer­e­mony, of­fi­ci­ated by the MEC for Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Tourism Sakhumzi Somyo, was held at the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre in Uiten­hage.

The pro­gramme re­cruited par­tic­i­pants via ad­ver­tis­ing and re­fer­rals from part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions.

Twenty-one en­ter­prises met the cri­te­ria and were ad­mit­ted to the pro­gramme to re­ceive train­ing, men­tor­ship and coach­ing, which cov­ered ar­eas such as strat­egy devel­op­ment, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing man­age­ment and busi­ness le­gal com­pli­ance.

All the women head up busi­nesses in the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Metro re­gion.

Open­ing ac­cess to mar­kets

ECDC busi­ness sup­port man­ager Mpumi Fun­dam said the pro­gramme is aimed at ad­dress­ing the “en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills bot­tle­neck” for women-owned emerg­ing en­ter­prises in the Nel­son Man­dela Metropolitan area.

“The pro­gramme is aimed at fa­cil­i­tat­ing growth and sus­tain­abil­ity of women-led small busi­nesses, sup­port­ing women-owned busi­nesses to op­er­ate in a pro­fes­sional man­ner while im­prov­ing their ad­min­is­tra­tive ef­fi­cien­cies and busi­ness com­pli­ance and de­vel­op­ing busi­ness man­age­ment and tech­ni­cal skills to cre­ate readi­ness for mar­kets and in­vestor op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

Once on the pro­gramme, the busi­nesses were as­sessed and gaps iden­ti­fied. “Men­tors with rel­e­vant skills were re­cruited and a pro­gramme to ad­dress the iden­ti­fied needs was de­vel­oped,” said Fun­dam.

Three mas­ter classes were held, fo­cus­ing on busi­ness strat­egy devel­op­ment, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and busi­ness reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­ance.

One-to-one men­tor­ship and coach­ing was provided to en­sure that en­ter­prises were as­sisted to de­velop strate­gies, de­velop and im­ple­ment fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sys­tems, and re­ceive com­pli­ance sup­port, said UDDI chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Pa­tri­cia Dlamini.

“The pro­gramme was in re­sponse to a need to pro­vide non-fi­nan­cial sup­port to har­ness the com­pet­i­tive­ness of th­ese small busi­nesses. The in­ten­tion is to en­sure that th­ese en­ter­prises are well man­aged and are pre­pared for long-term growth,” Fun­dam said.

Gain­ing busi­ness skills

Par­tic­i­pant Nozipho Hlalukana, from clean­ing com­pany Bib­star Trad­ing and Projects, said the pro­gramme had provided her with gen­eral tools to grow and sus­tain her busi­ness.

She was sup­ported by men­tor, busi­ness trainer Lu­lama Jakavula. “Her help was in­stru­men­tal in en­sur­ing that the com­pany de­vel­oped proper fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sys­tems,” said Hlalukana, who em­ploys 10 peo­ple and ser­vices com­pa­nies such as the South African Mar­itime Au­thor­ity, the Coega Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the Depart­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment.

Other train­ing was on peo­ple man­age­ment and pay­roll sys­tems. “We also had ac­cess to an ex­tended net­work of men­tors with dif­fer­ent ex­per­tise that we could lean on for sup­port and ad­vice.”

Other par­tic­i­pants in­cluded Zozinette, a 100 per cent women-owned en­ter­prise in Port El­iz­a­beth that pro­duces a lo­cally-made range of cus­tom-de­signed baby car­ri­ers, in­clud­ing stretch wraps, wo­ven wraps, ring slings and buckle car­ri­ers, and Lu­mia, a 100 per cent black women-owned busi­ness in KwaNobuhle in Uiten­hage spe­cial­is­ing in DSTV and Open­view HD in­stal­la­tions, up­grades and sup­port ser­vices.

MEC for Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Tourism Sakhumzi Somyo con­grat­u­lates the women en­trepreneurs Class of 2017.

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