Nineteen women-owned businesses in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro on Thursday graduated from a R250 000 intensive nine-month women enterprise development programme run by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) in partnership with the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI).
The graduation ceremony officiated by the MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism the Honourable Sakhumzi Somyo was held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre in Uitenhage. The programme is rolled out as one of the MEC’s commitment to Provincial women’s dialogue held in East London in August 2017.
The programme recruited enterprises from the Nelson Mandela Bay area through advertising and referrals from partner organisations such as business associations. A total of 21 enterprises which met the criteria were admitted to the programme. The programme provided training, mentorship and coaching covering areas such as strategy development, financial management, marketing management and business legal compliance.
Richmond-based Bibstar Trading and Projects owned by Nozipho Hlalukana is one of the women-owned enterprises that graduated from the programme on Thursday. The company which employs eight women and two men offers cleaning, renovations and maintenance services. It has contracts with companies such as the South African Maritime Authority, Coega Development Corporation and the Department of Rural Development.
“The ECDC-UDDI women enterprise development programme provided Bibstar with the general business tools to grow and sustain my business. My business was provided with a mentor Lulama Jakavula who is a business trainer and her help was instrumental in ensuring that Bibstar developed proper financial management systems. Further support included people management and payroll systems. We also had access to an extended network of mentors with different expertise that we could lean on for support and advice,” says Hlalukana.
ECDC business support manager Mpumi Fundam says the programme is aimed at addressing the ‘entrepreneurial skills bottleneck’ by providing coaching, mentorship and training of women-owned emerging enterprises in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan area. In addition, all participants had access to the varied support products offered by ECDC to address either access to finance or markets.
“The programme is aimed at facilitating growth and sustainability of women-led small businesses, supporting women-owned businesses to operate in a professional manner while improving their administrative efficiencies and business compliance as well as developing business management and technical skills to create readiness for markets and investor opportunities.
Once enterprises were admitted to the programme, a baseline assessment was carried out to determine the status of the businesses and their business needs. Based on the identified gaps, mentors with relevant skills were recruited and a programme to address the identified needs was developed,” said Fundam.
Another participating enterprise is Zozinette, a 100% women-owned enterprise in Port Elizabeth. The company produces a locally-made range of custom designed baby carriers including stretch wraps, woven wraps, ring slings and buckle carriers.
The company currently employs eight black women. It received support in the form of market access, strategy formulation, mentorship as well as a financial masterclass.
Another beneficiary is Lumia, a 100% black women-owned business in KwaNobuhle in Uitenhage. The company specialises in DSTV and Openview HD installations, upgrades and support services. Lumia is an accredited service provider for both DSTV and Toptv. The company employs five people from KwaNobuhle. It received financial management and software support, financial management, strategy formulation support as well as mentorship.
Fifteen of the companies participated in the Africa for Africa Women’s conference held in Port Elizabeth. This is an international conference which drew attendance of women from more than five countries in Africa and around the world. The event provided exposure and networking opportunities including access to markets for the enterprises.
UDDI chief executive officer Patricia Dlamini says three master classes were held which focused on business strategy development, financial management and business regulations and compliance.
Dlamini says one-on-one mentorship and coaching of enterprises was provided. The purpose of one-on-one coaching was to ensure that enterprises are assisted in developing their strategies and in the development and implementation of financial management systems and supporting them for compliance.
“Over and above the one-on-one sessions, enterprises participated in group mentorship and therefore benefitting from a variety of expert mentors who had different specialisations. Further business assessments were carried out in the middle of the programme to determine enterprise development and assess any growth,” Dlamini explains.
“The programme was a response to a need to provide non-financial support in order to harness the competitiveness of these small businesses. The intention is to ensure that these enterprises are well-managed and are prepared for long-term growth. It is believed that through participating in the programme, the enterprises will become more market ready and sustainable,” Fundam said.