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10 August 2023
EMS Faculty Adds its Voice to the Plight of Women in Small Business
A leading market and consumer data provider, Statista, has reported that around 7.6 million South African households in 2021 were women-led, and this figure is set to increase. 

As August marks Women's Month, the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Economic and Management Sciences Faculty has thrown its weight and knowledge behind a series of projects to help upskill and empower women from various walks of life.

Under the banner, Breaking Barriers: Empowering Women in the Economy, the faculty is hosting webinars and workshops focusing on supporting small women-owned businesses in crisis.

Bonita Raymond is the Departmental Chair and Senior Lecturer in the Accounting Department at UWC. She is a strong advocate for women's empowerment and believes this project is a step in the right direction to help women who do not merely want to survive, but thrive in their respective businesses.

“Many of us know of women who make it from one day to the next through trading and goods; many of us were raised by them. Trade makes up a significant part of the informal sector, and there are far more women than men employed in the sector,” said Raymond (pictured right). 

The workshops and webinars will focus on several pressing matters like stubborn inflation, ongoing interest hikes and the detrimental effects of loadshedding on small businesses. 

“I think it’s apparent that the informal trading sector is an essential survivalist strategy. People are operating survivalist businesses, where money goes back onto the table or back into the household as opposed to back into the businesses,’’ added Raymond.

During the month of August, the EMS faculty - under the leadership of Professor Michelle Esau - has committed itself to help not only tackle business-related issues, but also climate-related challenges hammering small-, medium- and micro-enterprises.

One of the webinars will also focus on rural women at the coal face of climate shocks such as flooding, drought and rising sea temperatures. The general consensus among keynote speakers in this webinar is that women carry a disproportionate burden of additional labour required to survive in conditions of increased uncertainty.

“We have partnered with stakeholders from the financial and NGO sectors to provide a platform of engagement that draws in knowledge and experiences from beyond the academic sector. At the same time, we will listen to the research of our doctoral candidates as they share the challenges of women living in the rural parts of the country during climate change,’’ said Prof Esau.