The official launch of the Women and Youth in Entrepreneurship (Wyre) programme by Kwanalu, the KZN agricultural union, to equip women and youth in KZN with tools to tackle poverty, kicked off this week with a webinar that aimed to identify and train mentors to help drive the 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 SA.
“We at Kwanalu are solution-orientated, and from our years 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 the economy and our members 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 day. The Wyre programme sets about changing this cycle for good,” said La Marque.
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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 opportunities to support themselves and their communities, and to participate in the agricultural value chain.
“Earlier this month, at the Women’s Economic Assembly, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for fundamental transformation in the workplace and the goal of 8 million jobs. We are answering his call with our solution,” explains Hurly.
“Wyre is a platform to identify, digitise, upskill and cluster women and youth agri-entrepreneurs in the pursuit of sustained business creation ventures. Funding to kickstart the programme has come from a number of sources, with the call to restore rural towns through entrepreneurship,” said Dr Hurly.
This week’s webinar focused on the gathering of information to identify entrepreneurs for mentorship training. Once recognised, the next step will be the developing and strengthening of entrepreneurs in rural towns, with accredited business training, leaderships skills, development in self-management programmes, mentorship training and new venture creation.
Webinar speakers included Nicholas Nzama, a 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 helping young men find ways to address challenges they face in society.
Nonhlanhla Joyce, a multi-award-winning farmer, social entrepreneur and CEO of Umgibe Farming Organics, is passionate about community development in the areas of agriculture and food security, with a focus on women and youth empowerment and intergenerational skills transference. Umgibe’s vision is to empower 1 million people to feed themselves and eat sustainably with their own Umgibe home gardens.
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Cattle farmer and global agripreneur, Ntuthu Mbiko-Motshegoa, champions participation and sustainable programmes for women in agribusiness, using her leadership role to influence policies that impact the participation of women in agribusiness.
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 the Wyre programme will create clusters in rural towns for business hubs for shared experiences, and admin support for those on the programme,” said Hurly.
After the training and 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. After which, the ongoing programme seeks to develop business plans to identify start-up funding needs.