President Cyril Ramaphosa challenged the country to pay special attention to the economic position of women and to work towards the economic liberation of women in his 2019 National Women’s Day address. The President emphasised that focusing on women we can reverse the economic disadvantages that continue to afflict women in South Africa and the continent at large. His views were underpinned by women still being disproportionately affected by unemployment and are in the lowest earning categories in job markets, making them vulnerable to poverty.
At the Tshwane Economic Development Agency (TEDA), we fully concur with the President’s stance, understanding that it is indeed crucial to drive the participation of women in economic development. As South Africa works towards economic recovery with a focus on agrarian reform, supporting black commercial farmers, black industrialist programme, rural and township entrepreneurs along with the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area, women must be at the forefront.
When more women work, economies grow! (United Nations Women, Facts and Figures: Economic Empowerment, 2020).
Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification, and promotes income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. It is important that the discussions and solutions for the economic empowerment of women graduate beyond just equal work and pay opportunities.
We must work towards more inclusive and truly sustainable economic growth to tackle ownership, control and economic influence.
At TEDA, we see sectors such as the manufacturing, tourism, agro-processing and automotive as good opportunities to help grow the participation of women as owners and leaders in the Tshwane economy. As part of our plans, we have earmarked the development of future tourism products to focus on women.
As part of our mandate to develop economic opportunities for the City of Tshwane, we continue to assist women-owned and run businesses and through this work. We have discovered that female entrepreneurs have an incredible knack for developing solutions that make a difference to their immediate employees and communities.
Afri-berry is a company formed by Relebohile Moeng that has developed organic skin and hair products which are available in leading retailers. Relebohile is a GIBS graduate who holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management.
Relebohile points out that there cannot be any real economic recovery without the meaningful participation of women. She states “Women have a critical role in rebuilding the economy of Mzansi, and rebuilding economies of the world. Having more women in leadership positions means we can redesign economies to be more inclusive”.
Relebohile’s motivation for starting a company in this sector was influenced by her personal experience of looking for skin products that would help heal scars as well as to have the opportunity to participate in a high-demand, niche market. As TEDA, we supported and championed the growth of this business by facilitating access to export markets. Today the company exports to Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana and New Zealand.
As economic development players fulfilling our respective roles and responsibilities in both the private and public sector, it is important that we not only acknowledge but also lower the barriers faced by women in business. We are actively ensuring the meaningful economic participation of women as business owners and leaders.
It is only through such concerted and deliberate efforts we can truly be on the road to equitable economic inclusion and turn the economic tide.
Mpho Sedibe CA (SA) is an entrepreneur and a board member on Tshwane Economic Development Agency (TEDA), chairing the entity’s Destination Marketing and Tourism Sub-Committee.
The Tshwane Economic Development Agency Ltd (TEDA) was established as a municipal entity of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality (CoT) on 2 November 2006. TEDA operates as a State Owned Company registered in terms of the Companies Act.
TEDA was established with the primary objective to cultivate an environment within which the City of Tshwane (CoT) can grow its human capital and the economy through the facilitation, implementation and management of developments with a specific focus on economic development and Investment.