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24 August 2018
Women in Small Business take centre stage.

(Published - 24 August 2018)

The courtyard in the Faculty of Economic and Management Science’s building has been abuzz with women entrepreneurs showcasing their products and services as part of the University of the Western Cape’s Women’s Month programme.

The EMS Women in Business Exhibition is sponsored by ABSA and the event is co-hosted by the EMS Faculty’s School of Business and Finance (SBF) and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).

Edith Vries, Director General of the Department for Small Business Development, launched the two-day event on 23 August. Successful business owners and managers including Zandile Nyawo, Provincial Head New: Business Acquisition and Enterprise Development at ABSA, called on agencies, involved in small business, to support women in the industry.

Dean of the Faculty of EMS, Prof Michelle Esau, said: “Small business and entrepreneurship can help solve the high levels of unemployment in South Africa. At the same time, we know that in spite of various policies and strategies, women continue to be under-represented in the sector. Empowering female entrepreneurs can advance an economy and a society.”

Charleen Duncan, Director of the CEI, added: “It is important to highlight the journey of woman in South Africa, and to reflect on the achievements of exceptional women. Woman entrepreneurs need other woman role models - and this is an opportunity to share information, learn from each other, and establish a presence.”

The exhibition was an opportunity for Rhona J Ruiters to promote her home-brewed brand of beverages called Passiona Tea.

“Women are just as good as men are. And I can tell you, as a woman, I will always support any business. But for women – this is our time. This is the right for women to know what their capabilities are,” she said.

Absa’s Gordon Sharman was on hand to answer questions about support available to women entrepreneurs.

“We built our Enterprise Development Department on three pillars: access to markets, access to funding and non-financial support or what we commonly call business development support. We try and take a more holistic approach of the supporting the SMMEs and particularly women in business,” he said.

Yollanda Hlungwane, Regional Business Analyst for development finance agency the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), said: “The reason we are here today is that the IDC is cognisant of how under-resourced and under-financed women businesses are so we are here to see how we can potentially assist in terms of financial and non-financial support. Our broad goal is to increase the number of women-owned businesses in the economy.”

For Women’s Month at the University of the Western Cape, the EMS Faculty will be addressing some of the salient and contemporary issues facing the South African society including Women in ICT; women in small business; and women in land and agriculture.