An annual campaign to fast-track the meaningful participation of women into the mainstream economy and encourage leadership, found expression in Trade &Investment KwaZulu-Natal’s (TIKZN) robust Women in Business Dialogue today.
Hosted in conjunction with radio station, Gagasi 99.5 FM, the inaugural event under the theme It’s Our Time targeted both existing and prospective KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) businesswomen.
TIKZN is the official investment and trade promotion agency of the KZN provincial government, falling under the auspices of the Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) which is led by the Honourable MEC Sihle Zikalala. The entity promotes KZN as the premier inward investment destination and a leader in export trade, through assisting KZN-based companies to export.
Phuti Mahanyele, executive chairperson of Sigma Capital; Yoliswa Gumede, marketing director of Cappeny Estates and Zola Malinga, founder and executive director of Jade Capital Partners, were among some of the high-profile speakers at the event.
In her keynote address, Mahanyele said women had the power to influence change. “Anything is possible with determination. It’s about standing out and having the conviction to live up to the purpose you were put on earth for. You determine the vision, mission and goals of life. Stay close to people who have played a pivotal role in your life.”
Gumede said, challenges in life were necessary for growth. “Failure is part of success. My business was born out of an attraction for property investment. TIKZN supported my market intelligence collection which included several fact-finding business visits to the Netherlands, Kenya and Israel, which provided me with a golden opportunity to meet the world’s leading strawberry farmers and this contributed immensely to my business success,” she said.
Malinga who grew up in Umlazi, south of Durban, said it was important to manage costs when starting up a business. “Entrepreneurs are critical for job creation, to improve the standard of living, raise productivity and ensure inclusive growth and social cohesion. Ensure that you have a bankable business idea even before raising capital. Find a business mentor, conduct market research and develop a solid business plan,” she said.
According to Statistics South Africa, women accounted for 43,8% of total employment in the second quarter of 2018. Only 32% of managers in South Africa are women. Women dominated the domestic worker and clerk or technician occupations, with men dominating the rest. Only three percent of domestic worker jobs were occupied by men while 10,9% of craft and related trade jobs were occupied by women.
Affirming its commitment to the empowerment of women, TIKZN works closely with strategically-aligned partners to accelerate the advancement of women in business.
“We pride ourselves in contributing towards inclusive economic growth through various initiatives, with our energies focused on supporting the empowerment of women and youth. Our greatest advantage in the facilitation of investments includes leveraging on our efficient, competitive and responsive infrastructure network,” said Neville Matjie Acting Chief Executive for TIKZN.
“Investment and export trade; industrial development; and the green and knowledge economies all fall within the immediate ambit of TIKZN’s role and responsibilities.”
Responding to government’s call to prioritise women empowerment programmes and the need for women to be groomed into leadership positions, women are well represented within TIKZN.
The entity currently employs 36 women, three of whom are in management positions – Lingiwe Nyamande, Chief Financial Officer, Thandazile Mokhohlouloane, General Manager for HR; Ayanda Zuma, General Manager for Marketing and Communications.
“We have a number of talented women in our fold and we are committed to ensuring that women equally participate in the diverse economic sectors that drive commercial activity in South Africa’s second largest economy, KZN.”
Participants in the dialogue were locked in panel discussions which shed light on:
- The role of government in empowering women to do business in KZN;
- How to access funding;
- Success stories of women entrepreneurs and;Advise on softer issues faced by women in business.
“The plan is for TIKZN to host this event annually and to continually support government’s drive to unlock radical economic transformation for the benefit of women whose potential has, until now, largely gone unnoticed,” concluded Ms Ina Cronje, Chairperson of TIKZN board of directors.