Taxi owner empowered by business development programme

By Drum Digital
14 December 2016

The development of small business may be the key to developing the country’s economy.

By Salome Tsoka

As a bonus, the empowerment of women through small businesses will not only aid the economy but will help the country as well.

The Department of Small Business Development has developed the Women Economic Empowerment Programme in partnership with The Coca Cola Company , UN Women and Hand In Hand South Africa which is an NGO that upskills people from disadvantaged communities.

The aim of the programme is to give support to women entrepreneurs mostly in the informal sector.

Nomvula Makgotlho, Chief Director at the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) says this particular project is important to her because it helps alleviate poverty and empowers women who run businesses that are not always looked upon as important in society.

“These are women selling sweets, peanuts, vetkoeks and cigarettes at street corners," she says.

Makgotlho says these women do not get dignity or respect from society or their families because of societal stereotypes. Instead, a woman who has a shoe boutique garners more respect.

"Their businesses are not viewed in the same light and these women don't recognise themselves as entrepreneurs,” she says.

Makgotlho tells DRUM that they have the smallest budget in government of only R1.5 million, 50% of that budget is allocated to women’s small business projects, 30% to youth and 20% to everyone else outside of that category.

At an award ceremony that took place in Sandton, Johannesburg, DRUM met Zandile Nombila from Khayelitsha in the Western Cape.

Zandile says she grew up in extreme poverty and after completing her matric found a job at a Pick n Pay grocery store where she decided she no longer wants to live in poverty.

She save up enough money to buy a taxi and now has a thriving business operating seven taxi and is receiving support from the empowerment programme.

"It was very difficult for me to get into the taxi industry because male taxi drivers wouldn't accept me. I knew I had to find another way to survive," she says.

She now transports 120 school children in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Nyanga, and has seven employees, including her 26-year-old daughter Hazel.

"I started out transporting three kids in my private car and now I own five Quantum [buses] and two Sprinter buses and I transport all the kids to school," she says.

Zandile advises women to never give up and to keep knocking on doors for opportunities.

“Don’t look at the situation and not do anything about it. Ask the people in the same industry you want to get in and ask them for help,” she says.

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