NATIONAL NEWS - The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s ‘Women in Industries’ webinar has highlighted the need for intentional support for women in business.
The webinar, hosted on Tuesday, was held a day after the conclusion of Women’s Month in August.
With women’s issues stretching beyond the commemorative month, panellists highlighted the challenges faced by women in corporate and business settings.
Acknowledging that women shoulder the burden of running the household while also providing for their households, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) Deputy Director General of Export Development, Promotion and Outward Investment, Lerato Mataboge, emphasised the need to create conducive workspaces for women.
“We need to be more intentional about supporting women-owned business,” said Mataboge.
The panel discussed women-led investments, women-empowered businesses and the transformation agenda.
With the country still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tebogo Mosito, the CEO of steel engineering company, Ditsogo Projects, detailed how her company -- which is a beneficiary of the dtic -- was hard hit by the lockdown.
Mosito said the first 21 days of lockdown were particularly difficult as she juggled four children and running a company faced with operating restrictions. However, she persevered and has now resumed operations.
In an effort to overcome the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the dtic Chief Director of the Industrial Financing Department, Susan Mangole, punted support for local products.
“Let's support local business and buy local. Most companies have felt the effect of the lockdown and it will take time to recover. Some companies… might have to cut operational costs and find innovative ways of addressing their activities,” said Mangole.
A beneficiary of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and Go2Market Director, Nosipho Mtshemla, whose company manufactures ready mixed concrete, said while the lockdown was hard, the backing of the NEF cushioned the blow.
“As much as COVID-19 hit us, it wasn’t as catastrophic as tourism and other sectors. The fact that we were funded by an organisation like the NEF cushioned us,” Mtshemla said.
On ways to cope during tough times in business and life, Mtshemla, who is a Comrades Marathon runner, said she applies the same principles of running to challenges in the workspace.
“Even in races you know there will be difficult moments, you persevere,” she said.