A group of women from Soweto, Tembisa and Mamelodi graduated from the Gauteng Township Retail Enterprise Development Programme (GTREDP), which aims to empower female entrepreneurs involved within the township retail industry.

The GTREDP for Women was established in 2017 and is funded by the Gauteng Department of Social Development. A ceremony held at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Parktonian last week saw the 61 women – made up of 18 youth and 43 adults – being presented with certificates of completion.

The programme offered training sessions on basic business management for micro-enterprises, and one-on-one mentorship sessions to address the unique challenges faced by township retail businesses. It has also provided capital support by providing business tools including tablets, airtime vending machines, South African Revenue (SARS) compliance and card swiping machines, and stock worth R10, 000.

Pumulani Ncube from Beehive Capital, the company that facilitated the programme, said: “Having such opportunities to impart skills in order to grow the township economy is vital. These skills will be used to grow businesses and to help identify other revenue streams that the 61 women can exploit to grow their revenue.”

The challenges women entrepreneurs in Africa face are many, such as accessing finance, including financial management and putting in place good governance. Challenges such as not understanding how important it is to have networks and trusted advisers also affect women entrepreneurs. Lack of role models -there are successful female entrepreneurs throughout the world, but male entrepreneurs get better media coverage and visibility.

The expectation to succeed at everything -working women face the expectation to do well in all areas of their multi-faceted lives. In general, men are judged by how well they do in their careers, while women are judged by how well they excel with family, friends, ‘looking their best’ and, if they work, their careers.