Over 200 women from Musina Local Municipality graduated from the Acceleration of Women-Owned Micro-Enterprises (AWOME) programme at ceremonies in Masisi and Musina. The AWOME programme is a partnership between De Beers Group, UN Women the Musina Local Municipality and carried out by local NGO Hand in Hand Southern Africa.
Officiating at the ceremony in Musina, the Mayor Councillor Mihloti Ethel Muhlope said it was important that women are equipped with relevant knowledge so that they can run their businesses better, become suppliers within their various value chains, and be part of job creation. “We must make sure that women are organised and ready to access opportunities and empower themselves economically. We have a problem with unemployment and women can be a solution by staying committed to their businesses.”
She also encouraged the women entrepreneurs to value their enterprises regardless of the current size. “You don’t have to start big. It’s possible to create sustainable enterprises from the small businesses that exist now.”
The AWOME programme addresses the capacity of women entrepreneurs primarily in the informal sector to apply business management skills that promote the sustainability and growth of their businesses in order to create more and better jobs for the entrepreneurs and their communities. The programme’s training modules include business planning, costing, marketing, record-keeping, stock control, and people and productivity.
Representing De Beers Group, Economic and Social Development Manager, Ms Mapala Ramothwala said completion of the course already demonstrated the entrepreneurs’ dedication to making their businesses a success. “You must continue to persevere and face challenges that will come up. You are all winners.” She also welcomed the entrepreneurs to continue engaging with De Beers Group for business advisory services.
UN Women Programme Associate, Ms Mamodishe Sebati said the graduation was the result of a successful partnership and common goal between the stakeholders involved and the entrepreneurs. She urged the entrepreneurs to see their certification as another step in their business journey and personal development. “The knowledge acquired is important, but you must now use it to grow and sustain your businesses so that you are able to transform your families and communities.”
Several entrepreneurs also shared about the immediate impact of the training on their businesses. Ms Ruth Khutso Muleya who runs a makeup artistry business and a clothing design business said she did not have any discipline or planning in her businesses and her pricing was completely miscalculated. “After the AWOME programme I know how much I am spending and by the time I set a price I have included all my costs. Now I am seeing profit and I know where my money is coming from or going.”
Ms Sophie Masindi who is part of the soap making Cornerstone Cooperative explained that before the AWOME training the cooperative members were only focused on making money to spend during the December festive season but the AWOME programme made them realise that soap making is a viable business. “After AWOME we know that this is a productive enterprise. We now have a bank account, we know how to calculate profit, we are focused on getting customers.”
While the certification marks the end of their formal training on the AWOME Improve Your Business modules, the entrepreneurs will be supported and guided to implement their action plans through follow-up visits and mentorship sessions.