According to NAMA, women entrepreneurs in South Africa have benefited from its skills and capacity development programmes, enhancing their participation in procurement processes and increasing their access to business opportunities, income and growth. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: More than 16,000 women-owned enterprises have benefitted from the Flagship Programme Initiative (FPI) implemented by NAMA Women Advancement (NAMA) in partnership with UN Women since 2018.

This was revealed during the recent field visit by NAMA officials to South Africa, where they held meetings and consultations with Mahash Saeed Al Hameli, UAE Ambassador to South Africa; Fatima Yousuf Al Suwaidi, first secretary at the UAE Embassy in South Africa, stakeholders, national partners, and beneficiaries of the programme. NAMA also identified areas for improvement and new opportunities to expand its footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide.

FPI is designed to build and maximise the capacity of women-owned businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts, especially in non-traditional sectors. By leveraging the commitment of the government and corporate sectors, the programme aims to foster the creation of an SME support ecosystem and facilitate access to new procurement markets and finance, while also addressing the demand and supply constraints of buyers and entrepreneurs.

Strengthening capacities of women

Reem BinKaram, director of NAMA, outlined the transformational potential of creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs by leveraging gender-responsive procurement as a force for strengthening the capacities of women business owners to access finance and enterprise development.

She said: “We are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurs and business owners, by creating market opportunities for women-led businesses worldwide. Providing them with equal opportunities enables women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive as leaders, innovators, and high-impact changemakers.”

BinKaram added: “Guided by the vision and strong leadership of Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of NAMA, our strategic collaboration with UN Women in launching the Flagship Programme Initiative is aimed at transforming the business landscape and close gender gaps in South Africa by promoting women’s economic empowerment.

Aleta Miller, South Africa Multi-Country Representative for UN Women, said “UN Women’s long standing partnership with NAMA Advancement for Women, & the South African Government & people, has led to positive, tangible outcomes for women across South Africa.

Skills and capacity development

According to NAMA, women entrepreneurs have benefited from skills and capacity development programmes, enhancing their participation in procurement processes and increasing their access to business opportunities, income, and growth.

Leveraging the technology of Buyfromwomen, an innovative e-commerce platform, the flagship project has connected Women Owned Enterprises (WOEs) in Energy, Transport, Agriculture and General Entrepreneurship to improve access to markets.

The Learning Management System (LMS) assisted women in assessing online self-paced training during Covid-19. Of the 3,693 women who were profiled, 1,264 enrolled on the LMS.

Key government sector departments such as the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities have also commenced procurement spending on women-owned businesses in the sanitary dignity value chain.

Meanwhile, the Amathole District Municipality reviewed its supply chain policies and set specific targets for women-owned enterprises, effectively increasing its procurement spend on women-owned businesses from four to 38 per cent.