Progress Report: Apex Fund; Strategic Framework: Gender and Women’s Economic Empowerment

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Trade, Industry and Competition

16 May 2006
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Meeting report

TRADE AND INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 May 2006
PROGRESS REPORT: APEX FUND; STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK: GENDER AND WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

Acting Chairperson

: Mr S Rasmeni (ANC)

Documents handed out:
 

South African Micro-Finance Apex Fund Presentation
Strategic Framework on Gender and Women’s Economic Empowerment
Proposed Strategy on Engendering the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative –12 January 2006 (not presented)

SUMMARY

While members were pleased with the DTI’s efforts as far as the South African Micro-Finance Apex Fund and the gender and women’s empowerment unit was concerned, they did raise a number of concerns. These related to the Apex fund’s accessibility to people in rural areas, the measures the fund had in place as far as ensuring that loans were repaid and that the initiative would result in sustainable development. Members were concerned that the gender unit’s small size would impact upon their ability to implement their strategy and that the unit might neglect rural women. Members suggested that the unit also include other marginalised groups. The DTI assured the Committee that the Fund’s CEO would be appointed soon and that roll out would commence at full force in 2006. The gender unit would forge relationships with other departments to ensure delivery of their objectives.

MINUTE

Progress Report on Roll Out of the Apex Fund
Mr Lionel October, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Trade and Industry, and Ms Wesi Ximiya, acting CEO of the South African Micro-Finance Apex Fund (SAMAF), led the delegation that reported on the progress in the roll out of the Apex fund. Mr October’s report detailed the model used by SAMAF as well as the funds strategic objectives and implementation plan. It also provided information relating to the current delivery infrastructure, the fund’s target market and its operational structure.

Strategic Framework on Gender and Women’s Economic Empowerment Presentation
Ms Mmabatho Matiwane, Head of the Gender and Women’s Empowerment Unit, and Mr Martin Lebea, project assistant, briefed the Committee on the activities and challenges faced by the unit. They reported on the unit’s background and objectives as well as the proposed intervention. The small size of the unit was a major challenge.

Discussion
Progress Report on the roll out of the Apex Fund
Dr P Rabie (DA) wondered whether SAMAF would have adequate measures in place to address the degree of risk involved in the micro loan industry. He asked whether Mr October, during his research into the model had come across any countries in which this micro finance strategy had worked.

Mr L Laubschangne (DA) requested clarity on whether most of the R80 million budget would go towards infrastructure development. R10 million of the amount would go towards disbursements. The Women’s Development Bank would get R2 million. He asked whether this amount would be for disbursements or would some of it be spent on infrastructure for the initiative. He also sought clarity on what the difference was between micro financing as poverty alleviation and micro financing in aid of micro enterprise development.

Ms Ximiya said that SAMAF was a DTI initiative that obviously targeted enterprises. Poverty alleviation loans catered to those people who needed to supplement their regular income in order to support themselves. This type of loan had an element of subsistence to it. A micro loan was aimed at an enterprise and assisted people in moving away from supplementing their income and towards profit making.

Mr October added that within the micro loan market it was often difficult to distinguish between consumption and enterprise. While some people borrowed for their personal use, some of that loan would typically go towards buying stock for their small enterprise.

The DTI felt that the enterprise aspect needed to be present otherwise the initiative would be no different from a social development initiative (grants, etc.) so that the loan could be repaid. While the rest of the micro-credit sector relied on a borrower having an income with which to repay their loan, the market targeted by the APEX fund had no income from salaries or wages.

Ms M Manjezi (DTI: Chief Director–Small Business) added that SAMAF should be seen as a link between grants and micro enterprises. The APEX fund supplemented social grants. If people used alternative sources for funds, they would be confronted with issues of formalisation that would make it difficult for them to get financial assistance.

Dr E Nkem-Abonta (ANC) was aware that governments existed to intervene. He wondered where this kind of intervention had been successful in other countries and whether institutions that were created in this manner eventually become self-sustainable and independent. To his knowledge only the Gramin Bank in Bangladesh, which was not a government-sponsored institution but began as a private institution, was successful.

He noted that the bureaucrats would be the first beneficiaries of the scheme and reminded members that poverty was a "big industry" that sustained the bureaucracy.

He said that care should be taken not to obstruct price-setting mechanisms. Economics was a system of interdependencies – creating successes on the one side meant creating problems on the other. The Apartheid system, for example, did not see the inefficiencies it had built into a system that appeared to work well.

He felt that lack of financing tended to be over-emphasised. The delegation claimed, without proof, that micro enterprises had no capital of their own. This was not true. In the past 13 years he witnessed people who had no credit at all and started by hawking, develop to small business owners. This could be observed in the United States of America and many other countries as well.

He wondered whether the fact that micro-loans for consumption are popular was due to the system or to those who borrowed. Borrowing to consume, and borrowing to invest yielded different outcomes. He agreed that the micro credit system was working quite well and Government should be mindful of the problems that might be created if it intervened in the micro-financing sphere.

He was concerned that while APEX’s strategic objectives were laudable, it failed to provide strategies for achieving these objectives. While Mr October said that the model was hybrid, Mr Nkem-Abonta felt that it was essentially wholesale. He wondered whether it was a good idea to go with a model that was basically wholesale when it had failed in the past.

Mr October responded that the DTI took cognisance of the fact that this initiative was still closer to the wholesale model than to the retail one. Government was still cautious about investing heavily in a massive roll out of its own retail network. Doing that would be costly. SAMAF needed to start lending immediately in order to strike the balance between the two models. Personally he felt that the initiative would need to get closer to the retail model and SAMAF contained a built in mechanism to facilitate a move in that direction within the next three years. He said that the Gramin Bank was probably leaning towards the retail model. Although it worked through a strong network of their own branches, NGO’s as well as women’s groups, their internal capacity was probably less reliant on their partners.

Dr Nkem-Abonta wondered how SAMAF would ensure that people who borrowed as part of the poverty alleviation scheme, repaid their loans. Such borrowers borrowed to survive and not necessarily to invest. In the event of such borrowers failing to repay their loans the project would only be sustainable if taxation was increased. The Gramin Bank was successful because it ensured that people repaid their loans. He wondered whether SAMAF had a projectory repayment rate.

He also noted that at an interest rate of 2% per annum the loans would have to be heavily subsidised. This would impact on the price-setting mechanism. He asked whether the low interest rate was SAMAF’s way of ensuring a high repayment rate. He wondered whether the initiative would not be seen as another Government scheme that was meant to help, but failed because people did not honour agreements knowing that there would be no repercussions.

Mr October informed members that the experience of other similar initiatives showed that non-repayment of loans was a myth. For ten years both Government and the private sector had been too afraid to cater to that market yet the poor paid back better than the perception suggested. The impairment rate of African Bank and Capitec, who had gone closest to this target market was 1,5%. Capitec had, within 5 years, lent more than R1billion per annum to the people in the lower end of the working class and could report a 99%repayment rate. He emphasised that one needed to have systems in place in order to ensure that one had a high repayment rate. He said that Ms Ximiya had spent some time working with the partner organisations to address issues around repayment. The risk of non-repayment was often over-emphasised. This was proven by the fact that the profit rate of similar initiatives showed 30-40% return on equity. He reminded members that African Bank reported that it would lower their interest rates precisely because they had over-priced for risk.

Ms Ximiya added that banks did not have the same access to information that community based structures did. Through the village bank experience she had learnt that when people owned entities they became "committed and faithful and loyal to those entities because they owned them". SAMAF targeted village banks precisely for this reason. She emphasised that the partner organisations were community based and that the APEX fund was definitely accessible to people on the ground.

She assured members that part of the capacity building drive was aimed at client education. The fund needed to make sure that their clients had the capacity to repay their loans. It could even assist clients in identifying the best kind of business ideas. She reiterated that the element of ownership always impacted on repayment rates.

Mr S Maja (ANC) said that the APEX fund was launched two years ago but still only had offices at national level. People were suffering, yet there were no provincial and local offices or field workers. He wondered how long it would take the fund to have structures at local level.

Mr October assured the Member that the Department was moving toward fast-tracking the implementation of the fund. He reminded the Committee that the Department needed to manage the requests for instant implementation from members of Parliament as well as the public. It also had to take into account the legitimate debates around the initiative. There had been many instances where Government had made disbursements but because there was no proper model, infrastructure or institution in place the initiatives collapsed after a few years. The Department took some time to set the systems and model in place. The process was complete and the DTI knew exactly how the model would operate, it had identified the organisations through which disbursements would take place and had put effort into building capacity and training partner organisations. He assured the Committee that the infrastructure was in place for a massive roll out during 2006. 50 organisations would get disbursements that year.

Ms Ximiya added that the partner organisations, which were mostly situated in rural areas formed SAMAF’s delivery infrastructure. SAMAF identified organisations that were already established and could qualify as partners. Rural communities merely needed to contact the nearest partner organisation. The DTI was looking at a future retail process but had to capacitate partner organisations first in order for them to become sustainable financial institutions. SAMAF would be regarded as a pilot project during its first three years. South Africa did not have much experience to draw from in the area of micro finance. DTI needed to start somewhere in order to gain experience and relied on the input of members of Parliament and the public.

Mr Laubschangne wondered whether the DTI did not follow the same route as the successful Gramin Bank. He was curious about how SAMAF had improved upon this model.

Mr S Njikelana (ANC) commented on the poor attendance especially in the light of the fact that the Committee was discussing issues that aimed to advance the transformation of South Africa. Reminding the Committee that 2005 was the United Nations’ year of micro credit, he suggested that the Select Committee also be invited to attend meetings since micro finance was very fundamental to transforming the country’s economic environment.

He said that it was important to take the link between political and developmental imperatives, as well as the rationale behind the establishment of SAMAF into account. Considering the effect Apartheid had had on the country he wondered what would have happened had SAMAF not been established?

He reminded members of how Khula had had to be refashioned and experimented with until the DTI was able to come up with a formula that worked. Today, despite its rocky beginning, Khula was addressing a market distortion. SAMAF too was in its experimental, pilot stage and was addressing sensitive issues around micro-finance.

The member was pleased that SAMAF was sensitive to the fact that social capital should be integrated in the initiative. He urged the DTI not to be apologetic about making this a conscious drive within SAMAF. This aspect should come out clearly in the strategic objectives. Since the commercial sector had failed to address certain issues the concept and practice of social capital needed to be integrated as far as micro finance was concerned. SAMAF could not consistently mention social capital and yet not make strong reference to the fostering of a cooperative movement.

He commended SAMAF for aiming to address issues around saving, which too was an exciting area and hoped that it would do its best to partner with the South African Savings Institute (SASI). SAMAF, with its limited experience, could gain expertise and knowledge through some strategic partnerships. When it came to micro finance, history showed that if it was not coupled with savings mobilisation it was not sustainable. SAMAF should emphasise a cultural change. This could be part of their client education. He urged that efforts to bring about a cultural change should have a "bathu pele angle".

He was glad that Mr October had raised the culture of payment because he had done a bit of research in the area during the course of two years experience at the community bank. Gramin Bank was a popular example but there were other success stories. An unflinching and highly committed interest in micro finance needed to be created.

Despite having been one of the members who had approved the R80 million budget for the project, he now questioned its adequacy. Successes on the ground would "have an impact on the R80million". He suggested that the Committee could perhaps look into the unclaimed pension funds. He acknowledged that this might a tricky area but the Committee should be creative in finding a way of sourcing other funds.

Disbursements and ease of interest rates should be coupled with delivery. Full time staff should be ultra sensitive to this matter. The manner in which social capital factors were implemented compensated a lot in terms of cost of delivery.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, was puzzled by the fact that much of the discussion centered on the model of the initiative when the agenda had indicated that SAMAF would be giving the Committee a briefing on the progress in the roll out of the initiative. To her the latter was the purpose of the meeting and not debating issues that had already been discussed. The model was quite clear in terms of SAMAF’s objectives and had been deliberated upon adequately and at great length.

She emphasised that the second economy needed interventions like SAMAF. This had been discussed at length. Unless members complained that roll out was too slow due to the model that was being used, she did not see why the model was being discussed again.

She reminded members that while she was a member of the Committee they had visited other countries to see how small businesses were assisting people. They had visited the Gramin Bank too; this visit had informed them on how to deal with small business and the survivalist area. This gathering of information did not mean that one had to merely copy those countries’ models. One had to look at South Africa’s economic environment and then consider what one could use in tackling the second economy. From there one could consider how one could leverage certain aspects from the first to the second economy. This was why the DTI had initiatives such as SAMAF and Small Enterprise Development Agency

(SEDA), which were aimed at changing the outlook of the economy and making sure that economic activities were brought the people, lined up.

She emphasised that the fund was mainly for rural and peri-urban areas. Townships could be included but the fund was not meant to be accessed by urban areas. SAMAF partnered with existing village banks that were struggling. The fund assisted them to grow. As far as she was concerned the project was half way. It was up to members of Parliament to, as part of their oversight duties, visit the offices and see where improvements and changes ought to be made.

In her opinion questions and answers on SAMAF had been dealt with adequately. If members had any suggestions or questions related to how the fund could work better they could voice them. If however they wanted to discuss the whole model, another meeting should be called. She emphasised that it would not take one meeting to change the income gap Apartheid had created in South Africa. The fundamentals of a systematic approach to dealing with the situation were in place. Implementation should now be scaled up.

Mr Rasmeni said that he was tempted to allow the discussions on SAMAF to continue since new questions and inputs that would arise. For the good of the people on the ground and for South Africa, the Committee needed to make sure that all issues were raised. He said that were questions that were not related to the model that would be asked.

Mr Maja said that South Africa had a high illiteracy rate and was curious about what the requirements were to qualify for assistance from SAMAF.

Mr Njikelana wondered what SAMAF’s contribution would be to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and raised issues around the fund’s outreach work, client education and Parliament’s responsibility in ensuring implementation.

He felt that the DTI should ensure that the initiative’s integrated approach should be enhanced to include financial and non-financial considerations. He acknowledged that some of the non-financial needs were being addressed in the outreach work SAMAF did, but requested more information on the component that would address the non-financial support areas.

He mentioned that the manner in which community-based and non-governmental organisations applied for social assistance, received it, spent the money and then merely returned to Social Development for another loan indicated that no experience, capabilities or expertise were being developed. There existed a gap as far as ‘graduating’ people to entrepreneurial or commercial levels.

Parliament had five core functions, which included facilitating public participation and facilitating corporative governance in terms of the Inter-governmental Co-operative Framework Act. In line with the aforementioned functions Parliament should ensure that it played a role in SAMAF’s implementation. Making sure that that the things it gave approval to worked was Parliament’s constitutional obligation. Members of both the portfolio and the select committees should consider how they could ensure that SAMAF worked. It was important to include the Select Committee because its members were rooted in the provinces and could assist in certain areas to ensure that provincial legislatures also brought their own capital and support to the initiative.

He added that some time should be taken to consider what had been learnt from the 2005 micro finance workshop held in Malawi. There were assumptions and expectations that South Africa would be part of the regional initiative.

Mr Rasmeni said that the point the Member had raised around the role of Parliament was very important. The Department would have to answer this question. He knew that some MPs had some time ago started to get SAMAF and the DTI institutions to interact with people on the ground.

He wondered about the implementation of their programmes vis-à-vis the registration and appointments of the soon to be appointed Chief Executive Officer. He was concerned that those systems might impact negatively on the implementation of the programmes. He wondered how SAMAF managed to get to where people needed assistance and how it contacted partner organisations. It was clear that there were many other organisations that could partner with SAMAF.

The Committee had been interacting with the Savings and Credit Co-operative League of South Africa (SACCOL) on the basis that some of them could be cooperative banks supported by National Treasury. SACCOL called on the Committee because they did not know if they would be considered as partner organisations. Many SACCOL institutions were disbursing loans to their members through the cooperative activities. He asked what structure was in place to facilitate capacity building for partner organisations as well as clients. He wondered whether SAMAF would be able to give these organisations an accreditation.

SAMAF had indicated that it had the outreach but he was concerned about whether it contained a demand-driven element. The Bank SETA (Sector Education Training Authority) was conducting activities for capacity building for entities that were involved with financial services. He wondered what SAMAF’s relationship with the Bank SETA was.

Ms Ximiya said that the DTI did not discriminate. It believed that the co-operatives were a good vehicle to make sure that everyone got educated. Most of the time adults would state what they wished to learn. That made it easy to include educational information that was linked to their needs. SAMAF would link up with local services providers who would be able to assist as far as education was concerned. It would also link up with non-financial initiatives within the DTI such as SEDA, which was meant to develop exactly this kind of educational processes. If SEDA was unable to address the specialised area that the fund existed in, the DTI would assist it in creating the capacity to educate in the areas of need.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) was looking at access strategies for grant recipients. SAMAF would bring together social and economic development. The DTI acknowledged that before one could talk of economic development one had to have organised social capital. A savings population would be built around the social capital. Savings corporations built financial potential, which resulted in economic potential. The DTI would link with DSD specifically, as far as an access strategy was concerned.

Ms H Lupuluane (COO) added that the integrated small business strategy spoke of the creation of an enterprising nation. This linked up with SEDA’s role of identifying and facilitating economic activity. This role in turn would link up with SAMAF’;s capacity building aspect. Perhaps the LED, SEDA and the provincial SAMAF offices could work together to ensure that where SAMAF was launched there would be some sort of economic activity to ensure that the loans people received could be sustained. This would be the second stage of the initiative. Ms Manjezi would take this up with the different institutions.

Ms Manjezi added that the DTI had already arranged a consultation session with provincial departments. The DTI would brief them on the progress of SAMAF. They would also discuss how LEDs and municipalities could work together to advance SAMAF’s objectives.

Ms Ximiya said that SAMAF was targeting savings groups, village banks, building societies, etc. This made access easier. APEX would only be branded now and would go through a marketing strategy that would address corporate and grass root levels. The DTI had service providers that were briefed thoroughly and would ensure that people received all the information they needed.

She said that the DTI felt that having SACCOL as a partner organisation it would make the chain longer. It would be better for SAMAF to deal directly with the people. SAMAF could assist SACCOL in the functions that they wanted to be more effective in. This discussion was underway. The DTI had to shorten the chain between the resources and the people.

Ms Ximiya said that if the client-based expectation was not met, SAMAF would enable people to source services at their nearest village bank. She stressed that people needed to be sourced immediately.

Ms Ximiya said that DTI was talking to the Bank SETA via the National Treasury and was running a capacity building programme. The Bank SETA asked SAMAF to concentrate on building entities into corporate business, the government structure, bank administration and the legal framework. There was an area of expertise for the bank SETA but SAMAF felt that in certain areas it could deliver a better service than the Bank SETA could.

Mr October said the DTI had hoped that the CEO would have been appointed by 1 April. There was a slight delay. The Minister was addressing the matter. Interviews have been completed and a candidate had been recommended. Since SAMAF was a trading entity the matter had gone to Cabinet and the Minister was trying to fast track the appointment. The appointment would be seen very soon and appointments at provincial level had already been commenced.

Strategic Framework on gender and Women’s Economic Empowerment
The Deputy Minister hoped that the Committee would deliberate more on the presentation on women economic empowerment. It was important to address the gap that existed in terms of the support the DTI offered at the moment. While Government had measures in place to address most matters that needed to be addressed no measures were in place to address those issues that related to women and their empowerment. The DTI hoped that after discussions it would be possible to take the strategy to Cabinet structures so that it would not be the only Department engaged in this type of strategy but that Government as a whole would also address the issues.

Mr Rasmeni welcomed the strategy but was aware implementation still posed a challenge. If Government were to halve unemployment by 2014, implementation would have to start soon.

Mr Nkem-Abonta praised the strategy but doubted the unit’s capacity to implement even half of its intentions.

Dr Rabie said that coming from a rural area he knew that most marginalised people came from extended families that were kept together by women. He wondered whether the unit had studied the efforts of women in the agricultural environment in West African countries.

Mr Maja said that ANC’s policy on development programmes indicated that one first had to target the formally disadvantaged and under-developed areas. There was a tendency to begin with the triangular urban areas. He urged the unit to first target the township and rural areas so that the gap between the first and second economy would be breached.

Mr Njikelana said that the new programme was a source of inspiration to him. He agreed with Mr Maja that the unit’s efforts should not be biased towards urban areas. Government had to become resolute in ensuring that this common bias was turned around. He conceded that it was not an easy task and that urban–bias in development was a global problem.

He wondered whether the unit had evaluated the adequacy of legislation at provincial and municipal level. In the context of cooperative governance national government worked in cooperation with other levels of governance.

He reminded the Committee that the sectoral division of labour was anchored around the gendering of labour and that this issue needed to be addressed and reversed.

Mr Njikelana was curious about the number of women who abused women.

While the proposed interventions were laudable he was concerned about the activities around publicity and communication, which he saw as fundamental to the unit’s success. Many women did not know how they could access the initiatives Government was undertaking. He hoped that the committee would support greater investment in the area of publicity.

He was pleased that global issues around trade and industry had been raised. At the Inter-Parliamentary Union, from which he had just returned, women were very assertive and had raised issues around all issues including women empowerment. International trade agreements had been raised because they impacted on the national policies of every country. South Africa was part of the global village. What was done internationally would affect it. When it came to regional issues South Africa became stronger particularly because of distortions in global trade. The unit should also address issues relating to the impact trade agreements had on the empowerment of women.

He said that the extent as well as the character of the details with regard to the women’s business directory was important. Public representatives and MPs had a responsibility to make the directory as effective as possible.

He found it strange that broad-based economic empowerment was not mentioned in the gender section and wondered whether marginalised groups (disabled people, abused people, etc.) could be included. MPs also had to contribute to the success of the unit.

Mr Rasmeni asked what the unit’s relationship was with other similar units and also wanted to know what the unit would do to ensure that rural areas also benefited.

He said that compiling a women’s business directory was a challenge. Data needed to be adequate and accurate so as to ensure that the directory reflected the situation as it really was.

Ms Matiwane responded that the unit benefited from the establishment of the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network, which was established in all nine provinces. The women involved in this network came from all areas. These women were running businesses from rural areas and the unit would nurture this relationship.

The DTI invited women to come to the DTI for assistance, yet when they did so there was often nothing the Department could offer them. There was a need to develop a strategy. She said that the Deputy Minister ensured that the unit went to the rural areas. The DTI was aware that they could not maintain the relationship they had with the rural communities from their offices in Pretoria. They needed to have daily contact with these women. She pointed out that the unit did not intend starting their activities in the three major cities. The unit was very small and consisted of only four people.

If it had to act alone, the unit would not be able to achieve all its objectives. It had approached the Department, along with other institutions that were already providing funds, to also provide financial resources for the women’s fund. The Woman’s Development Bank, which was established in rural areas, was the main partner. The unit would carry on seeking such partnership so that it could continue performing its role of developing strategies and monitoring them. This was a long-term plan.

The DTI was expected to lead with a strategy addressing women’s empowerment and to work with provincial legislation. Women empowerment at a provincial and local level did not work. The DTI had come up with a framework that could be adopted and amended by different sectors. The unit worked with some Committees but focused on national and provincial level. This was largely due to capacity challenges.

Ms Matiwane said that it was critical to include issues around the World Trade Organization (WTO). These issues were not new to the DTI. Under the leadership of Mr Alec Erwin (former DTI Minister) there was a serious drive towards addressing issues around gender. The unit "just lost touch" with these issues in their attempt to focus on finding a starting point. Those issues would be revived. There were women’s groups in South Africa that focused on women and trade and the unit tried to forge relationships with these groupings.

Ms Matiwane said that the unit did indeed draw on the model of West African women. The unit would be going on return visits with the Deputy Minister in order to form official relationships.

Mr Martin Lebea (Project Assistant: Gender Unit) said that issues around disabilities came to the attention of the unit about three weeks earlier. The DTI would propose interventions. He could not comment on all marginalised people since the main objective would be the inclusion of people with disabilities. Of the 30% quota of women, 5% should be people with disabilities.

He felt that the unit was efficient as far as communication and publicity.

The relationship between the unit and the provincial economic departments was very good. During their consultation process at local level, workshops were coordinated with the assistance of the economic department officials from the nine provinces. Councillors from the municipalities made opening remarks during the consultation process.

The Deputy Minister said that it seemed as though all people were not being reached. Other departments were often unaware of the DTI’s activities. Coordination with other departments was crucial. Decentralisation was a long-term strategy that would make the DTI more accessible to people in other provinces.

She agreed that there were women who abused other women socially and in business but assured members that the percentage was very low compared by abuse suffered at the hands of men. Twelve years of democracy were not enough to change a still patriarchal society.

She agreed that there were many good practices that could be learnt from women in other African countries who worked under very difficult conditions. These related especially to activities around extended families and family-owned businesses.

She stressed that if one wanted the strategy to work one needed to increase the size of the unit. The strategy, if implemented correctly, would make a difference. It addressed some of the issues raised in Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGISA) and it should be an ongoing programme within the DTI.

Mr October agreed that there was concern about the size of the unit and joked that it was one of the fastest growing units within the DTI – since its conception it had grown by 300%.

Mr Rasmeni was pleased that Deputy Ministers were now starting to participate in Committee deliberations.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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