MEA July 2017

54 MEA MARKETS / July 2017 , • Psychological support, particularly for children dealing with HIV/AIDS and death; • Applications for social grants and birth certificates and; • Educational Support and recreational activities. The centre is now in dire need of financial assistance to adequately provide care and support for the vulnerable children. Most notably, Sithokozise would like to continue its important work of providing daily nutritious meals to the vulnerable children. Women doing it for themselves Ithala’s Imbokodo Iyazenzela – ‘Women doing it for themselves’, is a province wide Women in SMME’s development programme, focusing mainly on the township and rural areas, taken directly to the women in the province offering inspirational talks, advice, direction and opportunities for those communities who are in business or who want to get into it. The programme is aligned to three key priority areas: rural development; township revival; and youth and women empowerment. Held over a three- month period, the 2015 outreach programme traversed KwaZulu- Natal from Port Shepstone and Umlazi in the South to the Midlands, Ulundi, KwaDukuza, Eshowe, Richards Bay and even further north to Manguzi, Jozini and Mbazwana. There were 16 interactive business workshops in total where over 1000 women running small and micro businesses such as salons and spaza shops, and who specialise in for example, catering, arts and crafts and participants had the opportunity to attend to learn, share and contribute to each other’s betterment. A panel of experts, comprising KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), SEDA, SARS, LED Managers from different municipalities, Amakhosi Traditional Council, Inkombandlela Verification Agency and KZN Department of Transport, provided key answers to the questions posed during these workshops. Most of the women who attended the workshops owned their businesses, but many were in the informal sector and not necessarily registered. One of the objectives was aimed at gathering key insights from the women themselves on the obstacles and challenges they face in business. Across the province, it was discovered that they faced similar challenges in starting, sustaining and growing their businesses. Access to markets, finance, business support, marketing and sales were the key challenges. Obtaining funding was hindered by a lack of understanding of setting up business banking accounts, registering businesses, compiling sound business plans, obtaining tax clearance certificates and building collateral, to engage with financial institutions and access markets and tender. The 2015 programme marked the beginning of the Imbokodo journey. The outreach programme will of course expand and continue. The three winners will benefit from Ithala’s business support programme and a ‘Start-up Entrepreneurial booklet, compiled as a reference manual for all delegates who attended the workshops. This publication offers guidance and contains contact information on the relevant regulatory and business support institutions. Mentorship opportunities and market access opportunities are also being explored, to assist these women to grow and sustain their businesses. Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business Awards The Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business Awards was initiated at the workshops, where delegates were asked to nominate other women who ran successful businesses in their area and who contributed positively towards job creation and community development. Of the 201 nominations received from across the province, 20 were selected for the judging process where three winners were chosen and acknowledged at a special event, held in Durban. “I have just registered my catering business and derived much value from attending the workshop. Thank you Ithala for providing access to a wealth of knowledge including how to maintain a business and keep it growing and profitable” said Nokwazi Shembe of Newcastle. Ithala bursary scheme Many worthy learners in KwaZulu-Natal achieved distinctions in their studies, despite huge challenges, but often it is only financial constraints that preclude them from tertiary education to fulfil their potential. With a high national unemployment rate, particularly among young people, bursary opportunities have become a crucial step toward providing vital knowledge for youth to enter the jobs market. Ithala established its bursary scheme some years ago, to assist learners from previously disadvantaged communities in KwaZulu-Natal to acquire tertiary qualifications in specified fields of study, at certain recognised tertiary educational institutions in South Africa. Ithala understands the enormous challenges facing the youth and the facilitation of the bursary programme is in line with Ithala’s brand essence of enabling dreams and delivering hope. The scheme has grown since inception and been expanded, to include financial assistance to students undertaking undergraduate degrees in the fields of actuarial science, accounting and economics, human resources, electrical and civil engineering, property management, legal and auditing, banking, information technology, architecture and drafting. Commencing with just one student, who is now a chartered accountant, Ithala has in 2015 selected nine bursary recipients from areas across KwaZulu- Natal, and given them the opportunity to embark on, or further, their tertiary studies. In addition, Ithala has provided an enabling environment where learnerships, internships and in-service/experiential training is offered to give graduates a chance to experience the working world in their chosen field of study. “The highlight of my academic journey has been to learn new things and grow from my experiences. Thanks to Ithala I have been exposed to the working environment for the first time where I learned the value of exceptional customer service. I believe respect is earned and one must not compromise this important attribute in the journey to success” - Nokuthula Ntshangase, Learnership Graduate.