SA Women Entrepreneurs Network and Technology for Women In Business: briefings

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


31 May 2005

Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC Western Cape)

Documents handed out:
South African Women Entrepreneurs Network PowerPoint Presentation
Technology for Women in Business PowerPoint presentation
SAWEN Products and Services brochure available at
Committee Annual Report for 2004
Committee Report on DTI Induction Workshop

The SA Women Entrepreneurs Network (SAWEN) and Technology for Women in Business briefed the Committee with two slide presentations. SAWEN explained that their organisation was a registered Section 21 company that encouraged the establishment and growth of small- to medium-sized enterprises. Special emphasis was placed on reaching the deep rural-based enterprises. Services included mentoring and coaching programmes and financial advice. Considerable discussion ensued on such issues as the need to invest in women’s economic empowerment and on export opportunities.

Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) facilitated technology-based business solutions for women-owned enterprises and, in the process, unlocked constraints for women entrepreneurs. This was done in partnership with technology experts, scientific researchers and business support structures. Members’ discussion covered getting the entrepreneur’s products to more lucrative markets and focussing on women in transport. For instance, government could target women to drive the buses in Johannesburg.

The Committee adopted the Committee’s Annual Report for 2004 and the Report on the Induction Workshop at the Department of Trade and Industry’s New Campus in October 2004.


SA Women Entrepreneurs Network briefing
Ms Mmbatho Matiwane (Chief Director, Department of Trade and Industry) presented an introductory overview. SAWEN was a non-profit organisation funded by the Department, with its headquarters in Gauteng. It embraced existing women entrepreneurs from all nine provinces.

Ms Matiwane discussed their mission and vision. Some of their objectives were lobbying for a conducive policy environment for the establishment and growth of enterprises, and alignment with similar relationships both nationally and internationally. The target market was women aspiring to own and manage small- to medium-sized enterprises and special attention was given to reaching rural-based enterprises. Membership required an affiliation fee. The organisation was represented through all provinces.

Services include management and training advice, mentoring and coaching programmes, and financial advice. The official establishment documents for SAWEN had been revised and completed. An operational budget had been secured from the Department; office space for head office had been secured and offices established in some of the provinces. More than a thousand members had been recruited countrywide. SAWEN and the Department had hosted workshops in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal on Women’s Economic Empowerment and emphasised the importance of supporting and strengthening South African businesswomen’s structures.

Some highlights included having secured an operational budget from the Department; the establishment of chapters in all provinces; and the establishment of partnerships with the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, the Africa Development Facility Project, the Black Management Forum, and ABSA Bank. SAWEN was registered as a Section 21 company and had incorporated a Black Economic Empowerment strategy. Ms Matiwane then related the donors and funding partnerships.

Ms Ntwanambi asked whether there was a programme to assist those women already established and struggling in small business, and whether there was any communication with SAWIMA (SA Women in Mining Activities).

Ms M Themba (ANC Mpumalanga) enquired whether the women who had been arrested for selling on pavements would be treated in the same way as entrepreneurs. Why had the programme not been officially launched in Mpumalanga? She also about the registration fees, whether women entrepreneurs were able to export their products, and how women in the very rural areas were reached.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC Limpopo) queried how these women then contributed to helping others in the same way they had been assisted; whether there were exchange programmes with similar organisations in other countries, and whether the Department was helping these women to market their goods.

Ms M Mchunu (IFP) asked the cost of registration fees and whether this assistance could be geared for women making traditional beads, quilting for jackets and duvets, people making baby carriers, and those with no income. Markets would need to be created for such enterprises.

Ms Matiwane said that SAWEN was not a government initiative. The Department was in Pretoria – if it was going to work ‘they should own it’. Mpumalanga would be represented. Some of the women from Mpumalanga attended forums in nearby provinces such as Limpopo. The registration fee of R250 per annum entitled people to go to workshops, get information and make contacts.

The question of informal business was a very serious and difficult issue. The ‘black majority’ in Black Economic Empowerment tended to be black men. Women entrepreneurs were falling between micro-enterprises and a few medium-sized enterprises. There was a need to invest in women’s economic empowerment. Those women who had been arrested for selling on the street should identify what kind of support they needed from government. ‘Cleaning’ the city meant moving people – that issue should to be tackled by women entrepreneurs.

The issue of ‘Red Doors’ had been taken to the office of the MEC. It was an issue of how the initiative could be taken beyond the Western Cape, and how to focus on areas where there would be continuity.

Young women in business would be promoted as part of Youth Month, encouraging young women to start their own enterprises and get into some income-generating activity.

There were many initiatives to assist marketing locally. SAWEN members had participated in the Bridal Fair at Gallagher Estate. Gauteng had also undertaken to hold mini exhibitions in shopping malls. There were export opportunities. Incidentally, the woman pictured on the front cover of the SAWEN magazine was involved in exporting. There was a need to look at the issue of exchange programmes abroad.

Co-operatives received discounts on fees – R5 00 for ten members, R1 000 for 20. Advantages to co-operatives were that they had the opportunity of looking into bigger projects. Women from the deep rural areas would not be excluded if they did not have the funds to pay for registration.

Mr K Sinclaire (NNP, Northern Cape) felt it was essential to make micro-activities grow. People from rural areas such as Port Nolloth and Upington would have difficulty getting to the workshops. It was important that the Department get to such areas.

Ms P Themba suggested SAWEN should communicate with the chairpersons of the provincial committees to put them in the picture.

Ms S Cheng (DA Gauteng) asked whether membership was by individual or company, and what the Department’s policy was on monitoring the established branches. She asked for the provision of an activity calendar and also how the network was linked to other business associations.

Ms Matiwane responded to the question about SAWIMA (South African Women in Mining Activities). There were women in mining and construction and also in oil and energy. These women were mobilised on a sector basis and those interested in starting small mining projects were members of SAWIMA, who were professional women. These organisations needed to advertise so that other women would know what was happening. The Department was only an umbrella body.

There were limitations to supervision. Ms Matiwane would try to present a business plan at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Staffmembers of the Department could help supervise but there was a need to get those based in the regions to manage. The calendar would be circulated.

Mr K Sinclair was concerned that organisations were created ‘in a vacuum’. What would the role of provincial leaders be when invited? Chairpersons were voluntary workers elected by paid-up members. The problem was that most were not paid-up. They needed fully paid-up officials who could account.

Ms Ntwanambi said there was a need to engage fully with municipalities and IDP’s that often had unspent budgets.

Technology for Women in Business briefing
Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) had been started by the Department of Trade and Industry in partnership with various stakeholders. They encouraged socio-economic transformation for women by growing and sustaining women’s enterprises through the use and access to technology and science.

Some strategic objectives were to promote and facilitate access to technology; identifying relevant training and technology processes for women’s enterprises; encouraging entrepreneurship and encouraging young women to follow careers in science, engineering and technology. Ms Matiwane identified priority sectors. Beneficiaries would be woman-owned and managed small to medium enterprises and organisations supporting access to business technological solutions.

Key implementation partners included national scientific, technological and industrial research institutions and support structures for small, medium and micro enterprises. TWIB was based at the CSIR, which gave a tremendous amount of technology and administration support.

Projects included the Water2Women Amadrum water purification plant; the Waste2Wood Siyatyala nursery project for the cultivation of fibre and food plants through technology; Beauty-I-slices natural cosmetics for eye treatments. Infopreneur Network train a network of Infopreneurs providing information technology and computer literacy, creating a business info centre to build and equip existing women-owned businesses. Their budget was R6 million.

Ms S Cheng (DA Gauteng) was aware of women in townships who had good products. These people would have the local market but would love to grow economically, could they not sell to Woolworths or Mr Price retail chainstores?

Ms P Themba asked for contact details of offices in the provinces.

Mr J Sibiya reported there were a lot of women producing peace candles, vegetable schemes, bakeries, soap. They were doing all this within the environment of commercial farms and could not sell beyond these farms, he would like to see access for these women to make inroads into better markets.

Mr K Sinclaire would like to see the budget of R6 million broken down. Our passion was to see people moving forward – big companies could not make it, how could the small entrepreneurs make it, these people had to be protected. How could small people go against the big mining greats? The uniforms of the National Defence Force are made in China! This was totally unacceptable.

Mr DG Mkono (ANC Eastern Cape) agreed. A lot of women were involved in the textile industry. The Department needed to develop a strategy to correct the imbalances and come up with an initiative to attract would-be buyers and also export. The ‘Buy South Africa’ campaign was not moving.

Ms Matiwane responded to the question on capitalisation and women in transport. Managing this was very challenging from the security and violence point of view (taxi industry). To empower women in certain sectors would need to look at additional measures and cooperation of Safety and Security so that women could do business comfortably. The bus system in Johannesburg had collapsed and was no longer functioning; nine government should target women to run the buses, which was such a reliable and popular mode of transport.

Ms Matiwane continued trying to get TWIB to go to the provinces. Centres of Excellency had been established where women who would be interested could adopt a strategy for their business, example where machines were broken. Concepts changed from day to day.

Ms M Mchunu (IFP) felt women in the transport, and especially the taxi industry, was complicated as people were being killed.

Mr D Mkono agreed it was a very volatile industry; police and others should curb violence, wherever one went security was involved.

Ms M Mchunu reported that women, with the help of the CSIR, were making chips and juice out of sweet potatoes

The Chairperson suggested a visit to a women owned business in Khayelitsha or a township and one in Milnerton. She asked members to diarise the visit to Eskom Friday 10th June.

Committee Annual Report
The Chairperson moved the adoption of the Annual Report 2004. The report, having been circulated, was taken as read and accepted.

Report on the Induction Workshop
The Chairperson moved the adoption of this report which, having been circulated, was taken as read and accepted.

The meeting adjourned.


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