Ithala Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), last night, celebrated the perseverance and tenacity of KwaZulu-Natal’s SMME business women, who are making a difference to the local economy through their business efforts.
As many as 200 guests clapped and ululated as 20 KZN business women winners of the 2018 Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business Awards were announced at an elegant gala dinner held at The Waterfront Hotel at Durban’s Point Waterfront.
“In line with its mandate as KwaZulu-Natal’s development agency Ithala continues to recognise and reward business success in the SMME sector emphasizing its commitment to the continued development of entrepreneurship in KwaZulu-Natal,” said Sitandiwe Dimba, Ithala Group Reputation Manager.
“The SMME sector is critical to finding solutions to joblessness and poverty in the country. Across the province, we found that women in SMMEs faced similar challenges in starting, sustaining and growing their businesses. Access to markets, finance, business support and marketing and sales were the key challenges.
“Obtaining funding was hindered by a lack of understanding of how to set up business banking accounts, registering businesses, compiling sound business plans, obtaining tax clearance certificates and building collateral, in order to engage with financial institutions and access markets and tenders,” said Dimba.
“Imbokodo Iyazenzela or “Women doing it for themselves”, is our response. Now in its third year, Imbokodo Iyazenzela is a flagship programme of IDFC. It is a province-wide Women in SMME’s development programme focusing mainly on the township and rural areas. We take the programme directly to rural areas offering inspirational talks, advice, direction and opportunities for women who are in business or who want to get into business. Our aim is to create an enabling environment for female entrepreneurs who require access to finance and the resources to grow.
“The programme is also closely aligned to Ithala’s three key priority areas: Rural Development; Township Revival; and Youth and Women Empowerment,” she said.
Taking the number one place and a purse of R50 000 was Thembi Maseko owner of Mqhele Bed & Breakfast in Richards Bay. It is an elegant four- star guesthouse situated in an upmarket area, with nine rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom and satellite TV, has conference venues and plenty of on-site parking.
Maseko ensures guests, both local and international, enjoy true South African hospitality in a quiet tranquil setting surrounded by nature beauty and wildlife. SafariNow gives the guesthouse a five star rating while Tripadvisor rates it as 15 out of 30 inns and B&B’s in Richards Bay.
The first runner up was Phindile Nxumalo owner of eThekwini-based Lwandle Enterprise Development a firm of chartered accountants. Nxumalo took home R30 000 in prize money.
The firm is focused on Public Financial Management and Capacitation and aims to be an enterprise development leader supporting the SMME sector in financial management throughout Southern Africa. It currently has offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Kwa-Nongoma and services a number of public schools and early childhood development centres.
Mary Susan Ntshangase owner of Khaya Amathamsanqa Ayanda Trading was second runner-up winning R20 000. Based in Ncotshane, Pongola, Ntshangase runs a well-managed catering and décor business. Passionate about what she does Ntshangase has built a proper business outlet by ploughing back profits earned.
In all a total of 568 entries were received and 20 finalists were selected and adjudicated by an independent panel of judges. While the top three winners take home cash prizes all 20 women win a year’s business mentorship and coaching, streamlined to their business needs.
The entries were received from various sectors including agriculture, agro-processing, financial, tourism, hospitality and logistics across the province.
“Mentorship is a powerful prize. Our experience over the past four years has shown that many women start their businesses with little or no business knowledge. Those who receive mentoring through our awards programme have become better at running a business; know if they are making profits or losses and have improved their marketing and sales.
“Research also shows that start-up and small businesses that receive mentoring have a better chance of survival and improve their revenue,” said Dimba.
The 568 entries received for the 2018 Imbokodo Iyazenzela competition was an increase of 25,8% on last year’s 421 entries and more than double the 201 entries received in 2016.
“The popularity of the competition was an indication of many women wanting to improve and grow their businesses and realising that they needed business knowledge,” said Dimba.
Issued by: Ithala Development Finance Corporation
29 Canal Quay Road, Point Waterfront, Durban