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FUNDING: SA Future Trust and WomHub Power Growth of Women Entrepreneurs in STEM

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The South African Future Trust (“SA Future Trust”) has continued its support of small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa by providing funding for WomHub’s Economic Growth Accelerator (EGA), a programme designed to support female-founded businesses in what WomHub defines as the fields of “STEM” – science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing – by accelerating growth through leadership development and intensive entrepreneurial support.

The EGA consists of two tracks. The SMME Track is an accelerator that will support female founders of SMMEs of steady growth companies in established STEM markets. It aims to support the growth of these companies, unlock their potential and enable them to grow and create job opportunities. The Venture Track will support female founders of potential high growth businesses. It has been designed for early-stage founders who already have a prototype or product and are looking to scale with venture support. The SA Future Trust funding will enable the programme to target a total of 50 businesses over a two-year cycle.

The EGA kicked off in July 2021 and has brought together 25 South African female entrepreneurs in a year-long hybrid business incubation programme, comprising in-person and virtual engagement platforms. The curriculum will offer these founders holistic support consisting of masterclasses and on-going venture skills. Masterclass topics include leadership development, well-being, business development and operations, governance and investment readiness.

“Our partnership with the SA Future Trust will help to unlock much-needed opportunities and skills development for the selected EGA participants,” said Naadiya Moosajee, Co-founder of WomHub. “The key outcomes of EGA will include an increase in revenue and sales, the chance to form partnerships and collaborations, as well as an increase in the number of jobs created by these businesses.”

“As we support female-founded small businesses, our primary objective is to boost revenue generation and job creation,” said Bridget Fury, Interim Head of the SA Future Trust. “The real value will also be in nurturing the vital array of skills in these STEM fields, and, in turn, making a lasting impact on the SMME sector.”

The recently published SA Future Trust SMME Baseline Report highlighted the need for support of women-owned small businesses – of the 2849 survey responses received, these businesses made up 43%. They also proved to be more resilient – of those surveyed that had to close, 45% were women-owned compared to 55% of male-owned businesses. 

“We believe that the continued sustainability and growth of emerging entrepreneurs, especially women, will depend on innovative support mechanisms they can readily access, like the EGA. We are motivated by the resilience shown by women-owned SMMEs that the SA Future Trust supported previously, who fought to keep their businesses operational against the onslaught of Covid-19 and the economic downturn,” concluded Fury.

The SA Future Trust extended interest-free loans to 9656 SMMEs through the Covid-19 crisis and hard lockdown in 2020, which facilitated direct financial support to over 90 000 employees. Some funds from repaid loans are now being reinvested in initiatives like the EGA which drive job creation and economic growth in the SMME sector.

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE WEEK – Michael Mogashoa

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