Women’s Skills Development Project: The Final Handover Ceremony

Between November 2011 and April 2012, Africa Unite implemented a 6-months rights awareness and community dialogue programme for refugee, migrant and South African women. The findings of this intervention showed that in South Africa, refugee and migrant women continue to be subjected to unfair discrimination, often as a result of xenophobic beliefs, attitudes and actions. Prevailing gendered power relations, compounded by xenophobia, present refugee and migrant women with even fewer opportunities than their male-counterparts to find gainful employment in South Africa. Many women are hampered by their lack of access to business forums or small business loans due to the social expectation that they remain the primary caregivers in the family. While some have ventured into setting up women’s self-help groups, most lack the skills and knowledge about building sustainable businesses.

Based on these findings, Africa Unite put in place a series of skills-development workshops to break through women’s economic isolation and enable them to become self-reliant.

 Women Celebration 006Over the past six months, the women have:

  • participated in workshops that covered key concepts and principles for small businesses, basic financial and management skills, basic financial planning skills, and basic skills in products and marketing.
  • worked in small groups and wrote a basic proposal that developed into a marketing plan for their product or service.
  • strengthened their skills in budgeting and financial management, business development, sustainable business practices, teamwork, decision making, and conflict resolution.

On 10 April 2013, Africa Unite held the final Handover/Celebration event at the Trinity Methodist Church in Nyanga to celebrate the end of this project, which involved the presentations of final business plans and the allocations of start-up capital for the five groups.

 The event started with a prayer and an introduction of the project followed by a quick discussion of the challenges faced.Women Celebration 014 These are the common challenges from both side:

  • Miscommunication with different languages (Xhosa, French, Swahili)
  • Scheduling conflicts
  • Agreements on business decisions by all members

 The presentations were delivered by each team leader. The following are the business ventures :

  • Sunflower Clothing: Selling second hand clothes outside of Cape Town (Ceres De doorens, Grabour, Pall).
  • Gwigza’s Take Aways: Selling braai meats, fish and chips, hamburgers, sandwiches, muffins, scones and beverages as well as stews, beef, rice, and pap to the community of Better Life and its surroundings areas.Women Celebration 021
  • Ubuntu Tuck Shop: Selling chips, sweets, chocolates, cigarettes, beverages, gum, and peanuts in Cape Town.
  • Masibambane: Selling fruits and vegetables in Phillipi to customers who cannot afford to head into town or malls for everyday products and creating a healthy community.
  • Vukani: Selling chips, sweets, biscuits, cigarettes, and beverages (popular products that can be sold at any time) from the taxi rank in Cape town.

After the presentations the facilitator provided feedback and advice. He reminded the women that starting a business would be challenging and rewarding—all businesses have highs and lows but they must have discipline.Women Celebration 030

Women Celebration 041After the certificates of completion were handed over, it was announced that their start-up capital would be deposited in their bank accounts once business or joint accounts were opened. The ceremony ended with a song as a celebration and representation of good fortune for their businesses.

 The event showed the women’s personal and professional growth as they start their new businesses to support their children and families and make an income for themselves.

Africa Unite would like to thank members of the non-profit organization of Social Utility “Seniores Italia Partners per lo Sviluppo”: Mr. Giorgio Bertini, Mr. Umberto Del Canuto, and Ms.Olga Jazzarelli for funding this project.

For more pictures click here

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