The month of August is the when South Africa shines a light on the plight of women but even more importantly how women are being assisted and developed, so that they can improve their status in the country’s economy. The culture of entrepreneurship through self-development and sound business practice is working in Kimberley, with wonderful examples of women who are developing their fledgling businesses into sustainable entities, with help from local development.
Woman-owned SMME, Ishecorp, in Barkley West, which is a beneficiary of Droogfontein Solar Power’s enterprise development programme that aims directly at helping to support community businesses, is helping other local businesses through its accounting services.
The solar plant believes that programmes that build local capacity, especially amongst women and youth, will have a meaningful impact and can help to steer local economies towards a more stable environment as more local jobs are created.
Ishecorp’s first year of operations coincided with COVID-19, but the young owner has not allowed this to deter her. “It has been amazing and tough at the same time because of the global pandemic, but remarkable as the training and mentorship has allowed my business to be taken more seriously, building my confidence when approaching potential clients. I have been equipped with the tools necessary to assist our local SMME’s cooperatives and non-profit organisations to be sustainable,” said Tsegofatso Chifokoyo, owner of Ishecorp, who is a great example of how mentoring and a community spirit can help build success.
She added, in relation to the many women-owned businesses that she supports, “It is a relief and great privilege to help another woman, however, I can only make an impact in their lives if they are open to it. Some women first need to recognize the value and benefits of the business support, in order to be sustainable and often can’t afford professional services.”
The business mentoring, support and funding that Droogfontein Solar Power’s programme has provided to help establish and fast track the sustainability of this SMME. “It has been tremendous to have the support, as it contributes towards economic emancipation in rural communities. Often, women like me don’t have options or resource and as result it takes years get a business off the ground. This opportunity has proven that it takes a community to build a business; it is important to tap into mentors and experts when looking to make a real impact faster and ensure sustainability.”
The solar plant’s support of this local 100% black woman-owned enterprise is part of their youth economic development programme that is at the heart of Droogfontein Solar Power’s Enterprise Development strategy. Furthermore, the solar plant believes in the empowerment of youth and women-owned enterprises, two sectors of South African society which remain marginalised.
“The role of black owned small enterprises, especially those that are owned and managed by youth, is an opportunity to support exponential growth and development,” explained Zuki Ndlela, Economic Development Officer at Droogfontein Solar Power.
SMMEs play a key important role in rural South Africa as they are productive drivers of inclusive economic growth and development. According to the Department of Trade and Industry small businesses represent 98% of the total number of companies and employ over half of the country’s labour force. The sector is so important that the Ministry for Small Business Development was set up some time ago, so that economic opportunities can be unlocked and thus achieve inclusive economic growth and sustainable employment.
Droogfontein Solar Power’s Enterprise Development includes initiatives to assist and accelerate the sustainability of local enterprises by ploughing financial resources into the areas of Kimberley, Riverton, Ritchie and Barkly West areas.