By Bongani Lukhele
Over the last three financial years, 139 women-owned enterprises operating in manufacturing, retail and services industries were supported and R1.1 billion was disbursed to fund these businesses. This was said by the Chief Operating Officer of the Industrial Financing unit at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Ms Susan Mangole during the Women’s Month Seminar hosted in Sandton.
The seminar was aimed at making entrepreneurship, more appealing to women with available funding. The seminar also served as an interactive tutorial using design thinking methodology to provide women with an opportunity to work through business challenges when taking on entrepreneurship and applying for funding.
“The total amount to these women-owned enterprise is R1.1 billion of which 55% was grants and 45% loans through partnership funds, 83 % of these enterprises are located in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape. 5 431 jobs were supported through these measures,” said Mangole.
According to Mangole, the dtic, through its various sector master plans strives to support women enterprises. She said the support was offered as both financial and non-financial to unlock economic participation of women in the economy.
“The total incentives, grants and funding for this financial year for the dtic, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and National Economic Empowerment amount to R23 billion. So now the remaining questions will be if only R1.1 billion goes to women-owned enterprises, what are we saying about women empowerment as government? We are talking about an era of empowerment of women, what we need to do is to improve women ownership in manufacturing and increase their funding,” added Mangole.
Mangole encouraged women to access available financial supports and reach out to entities where possible for clarity.
“A lot of women here will tell you that they either applied for funding with the banks, the dtic or entities, but were rejected. There is a need to develop partnerships with other financial institutions to increase support of women-owned enterprises. But what is actually key to this is that we need to increase the focus in both the townships and rural areas, and introduce policies that will lower barriers of entry for women in every sector,” she said.