Johannesburg – Friday, 14 October 2016, was a historical day for South Africa’s women enterprises. The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, launched a project that is close to her heart – one that is aimed at creating opportunities for women to participate actively as providers of water and sanitation services to our communities.
Women-owned enterprises in the water and sanitation industry are very scarce. Opportunities exist for women to work in the water and sanitation sector as consultants, contractors, suppliers and innovators.
The newly-launched programme opens up opportunities for women participation in research and development, engineering, construction, and local community initiatives.
South African women with a vision to participate actively in the economy attended in numbers at the Destiny Hotel in Kempton Park. A celebratory mood led to the chanting of the slogan Wathint’ abafazi wathint‘ imbokodo (you strike a woman, you strike the rock), remembering the unity shown by women who marched to Pretoria’s Union Buildings in the 1950’s in their fight against the oppressive apartheid government laws that discriminated against them.
Reviving the mood of 1956 was a moving keynote address by Sophia Williams de Bruyn, a struggle stalwart and one of the surviving women leaders from amongst those who marched. In her talk she emphasised the importance of the spirit of unity to enable women to achieve their set objectives.
The Women in Water Entrepreneurship Incubator programme will benefit three cohorts: beginners (women-owned enterprises in business; however, with no sustainable growth); intermediates (women-owned enterprises in business which are not established as big enterprises yet); and established (women-owned enterprises at intermediate stages that function as fully-fledged businesses but which require additional support to take their businesses to the next level of operation to compete more successfully nationally and internationally).
The purpose of the mentorship programme is to match women entrepreneurs active in the water sector with a mentor who will provide ongoing, individual support to the business owner. This support typically focuses on the more tacit and experience-based insight that new or emerging entrepreneurs may lack. Mentorship is always based on agreement between mentor and mentee that is grounded in the experience the mentor can share and the needs that the mentee has.
Delivering her speech to 560 delegates Minister Mokonyane said, “The Women Incubator Programme of the Department of Water and Sanitation is an attempt by ourselves in the water family to ensure that we create opportunities for women to participate and become providers in the provision of water and sanitation services to our communities. Through the programme, we hope to transform the sector by ensuring we empower women to deliver the services and not merely become beneficiaries of water provision and decent sanitation.”
The programme is made up of three projects:
- Women in water entrepreneurship incubator
- Women in water forums
In her concluding statement, Minister Mokonyane said, “We are moving ahead swiftly to ensure that we remove barriers and industry obstacles that impede our efforts to transform the water sector. This initiative is one such programme that is revolutionary and designed to empower women of our country and, most importantly, to further create new economic opportunities for the previously disadvantaged in order to push back poverty and joblessness. We wish all those identified to participate in the first intake of entities well and confirm that we will place all possible support to ensure that we positively propel them to succeed within the water sector.”
Click here to see the full speech delivered by Minister Mokonyane.