Cape Times

Radical economic transforma­tion must include women, youth

- Themba Mzula Hleko Pretoria

THE mantra of radical economic transforma­tion will find credible meaning if it is inclusive of all the ordinary people, including women and the youth.

The support given to the Mzansi Rural Art and Craft Co-operative by the Department of Rural Developmen­t and Land Reform and other stakeholde­rs, which include the Co-operative Banks Developmen­t Agency (CBDA) and residents, needs a pat on the back.

The department and its partners managed to put together an assistance package that started with training more than 800 women from the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga in rural arts, craft and design.

The initiative has seen ordinary women from rural areas hone their skills to manufactur­e works of art, including beaded jewellery, crockery and various pieces of art, which are sold to local and internatio­nal markets.

From the spin-off of selling their wares, the women have seen a substantia­l transforma­tion of their livelihood­s, making it necessary to formalise the co-operative and establish a financial vehicle in the form of a Co-operative Financial Institutio­n (CFI), which offers a platform for co-operative members to operate automated services and issue its members statements as well as back-office support that includes accounting services and training.

The CFI helps members to comply with the prudential requiremen­ts of the supervisor of the Co-operative Financial Institutes at the CBDA.

Furthermor­e, the CFI seeks to encourage a culture of saving and to transform the country’s financial sector by allowing community-based businesses to bank through regulated, community-driven financial institutio­ns. In their developmen­t trajectory, the Mzansi co-operative has now set its sights on raising capital to open a co-operative bank.

Local municipali­ties in Utrecht in KwaZulu-Natal and Alexandria in the Eastern Cape have also allocated office space to the co-operative, not only to conduct its business but to grow a national footprint that will see an explosion of branches of the Mzansi co-operative bank.

This initiative is pleasing because it shows government efforts at play in turning women into self-liberators by offering them entreprene­urial skills and resources to create their own income.

These also play a pivotal role in curbing violence against women and children because if women are financiall­y emancipate­d, they could care for their families and would be less likely to be abused.

 ??  ?? A HAND UP: The government is rolling out a co-operative bank programme that has helped rural craft makers’ businesses thrive.
A HAND UP: The government is rolling out a co-operative bank programme that has helped rural craft makers’ businesses thrive.

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