In his 2019 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni made a commitment to allocate R481.6 million to the Small Enterprise Development Agency to expand its small business incubation programme. However, access to capital still remains a challenge for many entrepreneurs.

In Mahikeng, in the North West, enterprising women are working together under the banner of ‘Adopt a Woman’ to seek funding collectively and find viable business plans. Members range from street vendors to tuck shop owners.

Under a tree in the sweltering heat of Mahikeng, great minds gather seeking ways to grow their businesses. The entreprenuers are all women. They are among the 800 000 female business owners affiliated to ‘Adopt a Woman’.

The organisation’s Provincial Manager, Wendy Atohwo, says the aim is to empower women and re-define their role in society.

“Most of the times, we depend on our husbands to do this, to come and buy bread, but we want to make money. It is time for us women to make money. You know why we decided to group ourselves? We want to go to government and say, government help us, because as you see us, all of us here, we are from different companies. We want government to support our businesses in order for us to grow.”

Julia Mhlanga is a mother of three. She is a tailor – a business she started in 1998. She has managed to educate her dependents using the income from her small business. One of them will soon graduate as a chartered accountant.

“In 2017, I applied for funding from government. So, the machines that you see here were bought by Department of Economic Development. So, after 2017, I became a very rich person, because I can make clothes, a lot of them. My production is still good and even my clothes, I can compete out there with a machine I got.”

Adopt a Woman hopes to grow beyond the North West to become a national organisation.