The Association of African Exhibition organisers in celebration of women entrepreneurs held the sunrise session to close off Women’s Month with a business empowerment session in Vilakazi Street.
The seminar and networking session was focused on exploring and promoting township economy, how to boost it and success stories of female entrepreneurs in Soweto.
Projeni Pather of Exposure Marketing said the event was aimed at empowering women in the business space to be at the forefront of actively driving the township economy and how to embrace the digital economy.
“We are here today to celebrate our Women’s Day and particularly being in Soweto we’re not here just to share a morning but also to celebrate the heartbeat of the township economy and the incredible women who push boundaries. They dream big and they redefine what’s possible, so we felt it vital that we shine the light on this economy.”
According to Roger Wilco’s 2022 Township CX Report, the total market value was estimated at R900 billion with approximately 60% of the market considered formal and 40% informal.
It further found that the sector contributes around 5.2% to South Africa’s GDP and employs 2.6 million people.
“There’s a sector that we can’t ignore. As the exhibition industry, we would like to embrace the township economy to use exhibitions as a platform to grow themselves.
“As individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses, we create employment for the community at large. So today we’re not just reflecting on the past and the journey that women have been through. But I think it’s a celebration of what is present and how we want to shape the future,” she added.
Pather conceded that it was still a major stumbling block with many women who are still deprived of being given a seat at the table despite their capabilities.
The session included discussions led by Bheki Twala and Tami Mase who shared insights and advice on how SMMEs owned by women can be at the forefront of the township economy.
Mase added that while the township economy was a gold mine for women- it remained a complex issue.
She argued that in order for growth in participation of such an economy, more education is needed to understand and communicate with the market.
“When we talk about the township economy, that’s where the numbers are and that’s what makes the economy. So we cannot ignore the fact that we need to be there.
“We need to empower our communities and educate them because I think what makes us who we are is lack of education and lack of knowledge.
“We are educating about the opportunities, abilities and capacity that they have and in silos, we can never do that. So that’s why my passion is more on inclusion,” she told Urban News.
Courtesy of Soweto Urban – full article here