SMME skills development workshop empowers rural women

Posted on April 10th, 2017
Business Skills Manage

Today's Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (10 April)

As part of a collaboration between Ithala Development Finance Corporation and the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA), the Top 20 nominees in the “Imbokodo Iyazenzela” Women in SMMEs Awards 2016 were hosted at a business skills development workshop in Durban this week.

“Imbokodo Iyazenzela” or “Women doing it for themselves”  is one of three flagship programmes spearheaded by Ithala, KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial development agency, to improve the long-term sustainability of SMME’s in the province.

“The strategic partnership with BWASA is paying dividends as the bottlenecks preventing aspiring businesswomen from reaching their full potential are being addressed through ongoing skills development and mentorship,” said Sitandiwe Dimba, Corporate Social Investment coordinator.

“While we provide financial support and business development workshops to empower women, the BWASA provides access to mentors with a real life business perspective to match the industry sectors in which the businesswomen operate to ensure the skills gap is closed.”

Phase one of “Imbokodo Iyazenzela” involved a series of informative breakfast workshops held across KZN over three months. The programme was piloted in 2015 and reached 1 041 women in 16 towns.

The objective of phase two of the campaign was to bring on board strategic partners to assist with the business development needs of female entrepreneurs.

The third phase is about connecting businesswomen with mentors who have the knowledge and expertise to elevate their businesses to the next level.

“The partnership with Ithala has enabled us to extend our reach to women in rural and township areas through platforms that will enable true empowerment,” said Mpume Langa, BWASA Durban Chairperson.

“By way of giving back to the community, mentors from BWASA volunteer their time to assist entrepreneurs – some of whom hail from afar as Jozini, Manguzi and Port Shepstone – in growing their businesses.

In addition, inspirational speakers will be joining Ithala in its My Business Indaba, taking to the road later this month. The programme comprises a two-day entrepreneurial expo aimed at rural and township SMMEs, co-operatives, youth and women.

In the past three years, Ithala has funded 684 business. The organisation disbursed R875 million, creating 7 917 jobs. Women-owned enterprises comprise 28% of Ithala’s loan book while youth businesses are 39%.

RiseUp Explore takes 6 startups to Silicon Valley on a journey to explore the global entrepreneurship ecosystem

RiseUp, the leading connector of startups to local and global networks, resources and ecosystems, is taking 6 startups on a RiseUp Explore trip to Silicon Valley – the home for startup & global technology companies – in San Francisco, USA, from 4 April to 13 April. RiseUp Explore is a special program where selected startups from the Middle East and Africa travel to global ecosystems to enable them to accelerate, innovate, and grow. Each trip is arranged around world-class events, conferences, and summits such as TOA, Slush, Launch Festival and others. This is happening for the second time where the startups will get connected to the most relevant global resources while showcasing the startup talent in the MENA region to the world.

“We are excited to take some of the regional entrepreneurs to San Francisco, experiences like these open doors for the entrepreneurs and even change startup industries,” commented Con O’Donnell, RiseUp’s co-founder. “We cater an experience where startups have an opportunity to get exposed to new markets, connect with global industry leaders, network with investors, the global media, and most importantly gain know-how that will help them build better businesses,” added O’Donnell.

Out of 112 applications, the RiseUp team chose 23 startups and then they went through a series of trainings and competitions before the final 6 startups were selected. They were shortlisted by ensuring their eligibility to pitch in front of the judges. The pre-set criteria for startups were: maturity, scalability, innovativeness and presentable on global standards.

Through the 9 days trip, the explorers will engage with thought leaders and ecosystem drivers in various events and activities that will portrait the region’s entrepreneurial talent and highlight technologies.

The selected startups are:

  • AlMakinah offers programing boot camps that prepare a high technical caliber to work at top technical companies and startups worldwide. Website:
  • 5dVR is a one-stop shop for the production of Virtual Reality (VR) projects. They are one of the pioneers who started working in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in the MENA region. In 2016, 5dVR made a 100% profit margin and delivered projects in Korea, Italy, the UK, Australia and the GCC.
  • La Reina is a rental platform for high-end designer dresses. They started with less than $2K capital but managed to break even in their second month and fulfilled 35+ brides’ dreams of wearing a designer dress at an affordable price.
  • Bosta is an on-demand delivery platform that allows people and businesses to send and receive shipments with the push of a button, as well as monitor their deliveries until they reach their destination. Bosta was founded by Mohamed Ezzat, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Lynks, which was incubated at YCombinator.
  • Eureka is an offline tech academy specialised in the education of technology, innovation, and engineering. They have won 10+ awards and have been featured on regional media such as Inc Magazine and AlJazeera TV for training 500+ students. Eureka started in Amman, Jordan and are now expanding to other countries in the Middle East.
  • UpFuse is a well-known, mission-driven startup in Egypt that promotes a sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle. They design and produce fashionable handmade bags made out of upcycled plastic bags. Last year, they upcycled 22,000 plastic bags while supporting 14 underprivileged persons in earning steady incomes. They are selling in Cairo, Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, San Diego, and Berlin. Their story was picked up in 19 articles, two radio shows and four TV interviews.

Africa telecom and finance leaders assess accelerating digital investment opportunities

Leaders from Africa’s biggest telecom investment companies including MTNOrangeHelios Towers, American Tower, Eaton Towers, Google, MicrosoftLiquid Telecom and SEACOM are meeting with investment bankers, investors and advisers in London on 24 May to discuss accelerating new investment opportunities in digital communications and infrastructure.

Telecom and tech companies are increasing investment across Africa as the rapidly improving digital infrastructure and services, and the take up of smartphones, provide huge opportunities for business and revenue growth.

“Telecom and tech companies are ramping up their investment plans for digital infrastructure and services across Africa as the reach of service and demand is soaring,” commented an investment banker focused on Africa. “On the infrastructure side, operators are investing in spectrum, especially in the 700MHz band, as well as on strengthening their networks by migrating from 3G to 4G LTE-based services. Mobile tower operators are also investing heavily while submarine and terrestrial cable providers have been increasing the available backbone infrastructure.”

“Improving broadband speeds and access is also having a big impact on both business-to-business and consumer-focused opportunities. Data centre investment appetite is growing and smartphone take-up is supporting the growth in m-commerce, m-money and m-banking services which presents a massive opportunity for vendors and application providers.”

Over 200 senior telecom, media and tech executives, including many industry CEOs, investment bankers and advisers will meet at TMT Finance Africa 2017 at the Hilton Hotel Tower Bridge in London on May 24 to discuss the new investment and partnership opportunities.

The executive-only event, which is in its eight year in London, features over 70 speakers and 25 sessions on telecom, media and tech investment and partnership opportunities for Africa.​