EWP gala showdown to celebrate female entrepreneurs
With women still in the minority when it comes to South Africa’s entrepreneurial landscape, the North-West University (NWU) is working hard to empower women within its demographical footprint to become self-sufficient business owners.
Seven years since the inception of the NWU’s entrepreneurship accelerator programme, Enterprising Women (EWP), the university has empowered women from all walks of life to become successful start-up entrepreneurs who not only achieve their personal business ideals, but also actively contribute towards economic growth.
The programme, which is regarded as the NWU’s flagship entrepreneurial short programme, is being rolled-out in Mahikeng, Potchefstroom, Sasolburg and Vanderbijlpark and is managed and coordinated by the bhive Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) in Vanderbijlpark. The latter represents a dynamic hub of entrepreneurial activities within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
Gala event to celebrate fempreneurs
On 24 October participants from two renditions of the EWP will graduate – EWP Vanderbijlpark and EWP Sasolburg. They will take to the stage in celebration of their successful completion of the programme.
This year will see a group of 23 women being applauded by members of the region’s business fraternity and university management.
“Every group of EWP graduates reaffirms the NWU’s commitment towards social responsiveness,” says Johan Landsberg, manager of the bhive EDC. He adds that the programme serves as a launching pad from where fempreneurs can effectively navigate the challenges that are unique to them. These challenges include high levels of domestic responsibility, a lack of assertiveness and confidence, fewer business-orientated networks in their communities and a lack of capital and assets.
A proven track record
During the past seven years the programme has seen female entrepreneurs breaking new ground in numerous fields, such as: app development, catering, construction, fashion design, interior decorating as well as maintenance management.
Others have developed and introduced unique products to cater for various niche markets. Examples include an eco-friendly mobile carwash for big corporates, the upcycling of plastic bags into designer rugs for the tourism industry and, even a taxidermy service tailor-made for the wildlife and hunting industry.
Many of these entrepreneurs are now paying it forward by offering employment to other women in their respective communities and even taking in youngsters as interns, showing and teaching them the power of entrepreneurship.
According to Leonie Greyling, EWP coordinator, the success of the annual programme lies therein that it provides real-time business support services to women. Participants are taken through a comprehensive curriculum to assist them in identifying business ideas and markets, the development of a sound business model and finally how to initiate their start-up venture. Leonie adds that along the way the women not only become part of a dynamic peer network, but also enjoy personal mentorship by seasoned entrepreneurs and knowledgeable members of academia.
“Ultimately, the programme offers women the opportunity to freely explore their entrepreneurial endeavours while at the same time enjoying the benefits of a structured learning experience through workshops and group-centred learning activities,” says Leonie.