The official launch of the pioneering Women and Youth in Entrepreneurship (WYRE) programme by Kwanalu, the KZN agricultural union, to equip women and youth in KZN with tangible tools to reverse the cycle of poverty, kicked off yesterday with a webinar that aims to identify and train mentors in the province to assist in driving the WYRE programme forward.
The webinar connected rural women and youth with local entrepreneurs in discussions relevant to the challenges, opportunities, real-life experiences, education and entrepreneurial prospects affecting rural youth and women in South Africa.
“We at Kwanalu are solution-orientated, and from our years’ of working in the rural sector, we identified that poverty and lack of skills was not a top down solution but one that can only be truly reversed if we commit to a sustained programme that supports people throughout the entire entrepreneurial process,” said CEO of Kwanalu, Sandy La Marque.
“Agriculture is a leading sector in South Africa’s economy and our members are those who work closely with the rural sector, providing us with the unique insights and processes into the realities of the social discord, challenges and prejudices youth and women face every single day. The WYRE programme sets about changing this cycle for good,” said La Marque.
WYRE, a sustained outcomes based initiative headed up by Dr Kathy Hurly from Kwanalu was launched earlier this year to provide women and youth in rural entrepreneurship with knowledge, skills and tangible opportunities to support themselves and their communities, and to sustainably participate in the agricultural value chain.
“Earlier this month, at the Women’s Economic Assembly (WECONA) President Cyril Ramaphosa called for fundamental social transformation of women in the workplace and the goal of 8 million jobs. We are answering his call with our solution, the formation of WYRE, a social programme that endeavours to strengthen rural stability through business development, funding and incubation,” explains Dr Hurly.
“WYRE is a platform to identify, digitize, up-skill and cluster women and youth agri-entrepreneurs in the pursuit of sustained business creation ventures. Funding to kick start the programme has come from a number of sources with the call to restore rural towns through entrepreneurship,“ said Dr Hurly.
Yesterday’s webinar, the first step in the WYRE programme, focused on the gathering of information to identify entrepreneurs for mentorship training. Once recognized, the next step in the programme is the developing and strengthening of entrepreneurs in rural towns in KZN with accredited business training, leaderships skills, development in self-management programmes, mentorship training and new venture creation.
Webinar speakers included Nicholas Nzama, strategist, mediator, facilitator, businessman and entrepreneur with a passion for making the economy work in rural areas. He leads a programme called Boys2Men, in the Valley of 1000 Hills, aimed at assisting young men find ways to address the critical issues they face in society.
Nonhlanhla Joyce, a multi-award-winning farmer, social entrepreneur and CEO of Umgibe Farming Organics. She is passionate about community development in the areas of agriculture and food security with a focus on women and youth empowerment believing in intergenerational skills transference. Umgibe’s vision is to empower 1 million people to feed themselves and eat sustainably with their own Umgibe home gardens.
Cattle farmer and global agri-preneur, Ntuthu Mbiko-Motshegoa, champions active participation and sustainable programs for women in agribusiness using her leadership role to influence policies that impact the participation of women in agribusiness. Ntutu believes in the power of collaboration and partnerships.
Sarah Collins, founder of Wonderbag, who in 2008 was looking for ways to strengthen rural economies and to improve the lives of women and vulnerable communities, came up with the Wonderbag concept.
“The ongoing support of new entrepreneurs is crucial in a sustained outcome and as such the WYRE programme will create clusters in rural towns for business hubs for shared experiences, and admin support for those on the programme,” said Dr Hurly.
Following the training and then the establishment of the WYRE clusters, the programme aims to link agri-entrepreneurs with commodity-specific opportunities, supply-chain enterprises and markets, and develop business partnerships for business stimulus support. Following which, the ongoing programme seeks to develop business plans to identify start-up funding needs.
“WYRE is unique because, at its smallest scale, it is aimed at creating 665 businesses in year one, employing 3325 people and sustaining 33 250 livelihoods, with a value of R166 million to the rural economy,” said Dr Hurly.