A government initiative called Technology for Women in Business is helping South Africa’s female entrepreneurs apply science- and technology-based business solutions to grow their businesses.
The initiative, introduced in 1998 by the Department of Trade and Industry, aims to help move women from the sidelines to the mainstream of the economy through the innovative use of technology. It is run by the DTI’s Gender and Women Empowerment Unit, set up to ensure that the empowerment of women forms part of the broader mandate of the DTI.
The national programme focuses on female entrepreneurs at all levels of business, from micro- to macro-enterprises. It aims to accelerate business growth through partnerships, education, mentoring and training. There is a customised incubator programme, which encourages business development in a controlled, mentored environment.
TWIB’s objectives are to:
- Facilitate focused action by female entrepreneurs at all levels.
- Create successful role models.
- Unlock solutions to progressive approaches to doing business in a global economy.
- Exploit partnerships with government, corporates and women-focused organisations.
Part of the initiative is the “techno-girl project”, which encourages girls to take science and maths, and follow careers in these fields by exposing them to engineering, science, entrepreneurship and technology, as well as providing information on career opportunities and learning programmes.
The initiative also gives annual awards to those women who manage to enhance their businesses by using more advanced technology. Women from all sectors of the economy are eligible to enter, as long as they are applying enterprising technological innovations to help increase their production capacity and enhance the quality of their products.
Other DTI programmes aimed at assisting female-owned businesses include:
- South African Women Entrepreneur’s Network (SAWEN): a networking forum to assist women in the SMME sector.
- Isivande Women’s Fund (IWF): an exclusive fund for women established by the DTI in partnership with Old Mutual.
- Bavumile Skills Development: provides training to mostly rural-based women to improve the quality of their products and enable access to domestic and international markets.
Download Towards an Enabling Environment for Women Economic Empowerment in South Africa [PDF] for more information on the DTI’s programmes targeted at women.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material