More than 160 out-of-school, unemployed or self-employed young women between the ages of 18 and 35 have graduated today from the Junior Achievement South Africa (JA South Africa) Youth Enterprise Development Programme 2017. This Mastercard-funded initiative empowers women to pursue entrepreneurial ventures of their own.
Over the 20 week programme, the women participated in theoretical and practical sessions focused on business theory, market research, financial and business management, sales and marketing, computer literacy and business funding. They also gained practical interpersonal skills and business experience by starting up and managing their own businesses.
“Entrepreneurs characteristically have ambition, determination and a flair for original ideas. However, many lack the business expertise required to develop these into commercially-viable ventures,” says Nelly Mofokeng, managing director at JA South Africa. “A key focus of our programme is to help equip young women with the skills to launch and grow their own businesses, and instill the discipline of earning a living, saving, spending and investing.”
According to the 2017 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, women account for only 19.1% of business owners in South Africa, and have a low rate of entrepreneurial activity, with only 7% of working age women in the labour force engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activities compared to 11.6% for men.
“South Africa’s resourceful women are one of its biggest assets, yet it is evident that South African women’s full potential and value as entrepreneurs and business owners are yet to be unleashed,” says Mark Elliott, division president, Mastercard Southern Africa. “The JA South Africa Programme is just one of the partnerships we have established to dismantle the structural obstacles and biases that impede female entrepreneurship so that women can play an enlarged role in South Africa’s economic growth story.”
Graduates from the programme receive a NQF level 4 Services Seta Accredited Youth Enterprise Development Certificate and the Intel Learn Easy Steps Digital Literacy Certificate, and an opportunity to participate in a six-month mentorship programme, which will provide them with additional business support while they start formal enterprises.
Lydia Makgoba, a 29-year-old who attended the programme in Diepsloot, says: “I see myself owning a baby clothing manufacturing company with shops selling my brand locally and internationally so this programme is exactly what I needed. It helps young South African women like me who would like to be entrepreneurs by providing us with important skills such as financial literacy that we need to succeed.”