Partnerships towards Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs


Beneficiaries of the flagship programme interact at a meeting with NAMA Women Advancement in East London (Photo: James Ochweri)

UN Women South Africa Multi-Country office, supported by NAMA Women Enterprise, is implementing the Flagship Programme, Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs, which focuses on eliminating the structural barriers women entrepreneurs face. These barriers leave women-owned enterprises largely unable to capitalise on government spending and international sourcing. The flagship programme responds to the gap in women's access to procurement markets and addresses key constraints faced by both buyers and the entrepreneurs.

In 2019, UN Women partnered with the Amathole District Municipality and other partners in the Eastern Cape Province to develop and implement impactful incubation and capacity-building programmes in the ecosystem of procurement as part of the flagship programme. A critical component of increasing women-owned enterprises’ participation in procurement included creating support mechanisms to ensure an environment in which they can flourish. These mechanisms include training, conferences, networking opportunities, and mentoring programs that assist women-owned enterprises in accessing opportunities within the district and nationally.

Through UN Women’s support, Amathole District Municipality, increased its procurement spend on women-owned businesses from 4 percent to 38 percent over nine months in 2020, with the spend currently standing at 45 percent in 2022. This huge achievement followed the local government’s action to fast-track access to government procurement for women-owned businesses. UN Women also partnered with Amathole District Municipality and E-Watchdog, a non-profit organization, to support women entrepreneurs and cooperatives to strengthen their capacity to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to COVID –19.

UN Women has continued the partnership with Amathole District Municipality and Ewatchdog by training of local economic development officers and local women’s organizations on Start and Improve Your Business, an initiative piloted by the International Labor Organization. This initiative has successfully trained 10 Trainers who are rolling out the training to local entrepreneurs and to date it has reached 347 entrepreneurs with plans to reach will train 1250 by end of 2022. UN Women is also working in partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology on training 35 women contractors on entrepreneurship and using Innovative Building Technology (IBT) materials.

During a recent visit to Amathole District Municipality, we spoke to some of the beneficiaries of the capacity-building programmes and they had this to say:

Phumeza Kate (Photo: UN Women/James Ochweri
Phumeza Kate (Photo: UN Women/James Ochweri)

Phumeza Kate, entrepreneur in the construction industry: “I have ventured into Innovative Building Technology through UN Women and Amathole. We formed a cooperative with 9 other women and now we are registered. For now, we are in Eastern Cape but our coop is looking to access markets internationally. We will start here at home but we are going to grow. Before I joined this program, I thought I knew construction. This program is changing our mindsets and how we do things in marketing, legal aspects, among others. What I can say to other women: they must be prepared and willing to learn. We must take these opportunities because they sharpen you and they get you to do things right.”

Sivu Giba (Photo: UN Women/James Ochweri)
Sivu Giba (Photo: UN Women/James Ochweri)

Sivu Giba, filmmaker and entrepreneur in the film and media industry: “Even though my business has existed for eight years, I found that there are many loopholes in the business. This training program taught me how to manage sustainability, how to grow, how to manage finances and how to market the business. I saw different dynamics on how to approach the marketing of the business, looking at an international market. The multimedia and film industry are very male dominated. I wanted to make it a point to show that anyone can take on any task they want to. To other young women who want to be in the film and media space, never be afraid of showcasing what you are interested in, your talents, your idea, and your expression. Grab every opportunity there is to stand up and go and get it. Be confident, be bold and just do it.”