The role that is played by women entrepreneurs in the informal sector could be vital to the accomplishment of the Government initiative of economic diversification.
Oseseneqa Lekgoko, Assistant Manager Communications in the Ministry of Home Affairs, told The Telegraph that women in the informal sector are very resourceful as they raise revenue through other means other than reliance on mineral resource.
This has helped by creating employment for themselves and others through the small business they operate.
“In a small economy such as ours, unemployment is a significant challenge; it is the informal sector which can offer the only realistic source of development,” she said.
Speaking ahead of the Eleventh National Women’s Exposition, Lekgoko said the exposition has come at a time when the country needs to create new jobs in order for it to continue to grow.
Lekgoko said the previous year’s theme, which is Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Sector: Pillars in the Economic Diversification” has been retained.
She noted that the theme is within the framework of Vision 2016 and NDP 10, in which the Government has taken deliberate and concerted efforts to grow the economy and diversify it away from heavy dependence on mineral resources.
“It, therefore, goes without saying that the theme is relevant to this situation,” she said.
According to the 2007 Informal Sector Survey, a majority of informal sector businesses are operated by females. The preliminary results of the 2007 Informal Sector Survey conducted by the Central Statistics Office indicated┬áthat the number of informal businesses had increased to 40,306, of which 27,236 (67.6 percent) were owned by females and 13,070 (32.4 percent) by males.
She noted that the exposition is intended to give Women entrepreneurs the opportunity to market their products and hence gain more customers as well as provide an opportunity to forge links, create partnerships and networking among women entrepreneurs. Also through demonstrations conducted at the expo, women will learn how to produce the products and diversify using locally available materials and resources.
Lekgoko revealed that exhibitors from all over the country will showcase various products ranging from textile, basketry, crafts, agricultural products, herbs, livestock, household goods and many more. She encouraged women entrepreneurs to participate at such events as this could lead to the flourishing of businesses.
She acknowledged that people have little faith in locally produced products, partly because products from other regions, especially South Africa, are of higher quality. However, she encouraged people to change their mindset of thinking that locally produced goods are of inferior quality as it is not always the case. She recognized government initiatives, such as Import substitution strategy, as being likely to promote locally produced goods.
Lekgoko noted that the greatest challenge that most women in the informal sector are facing is the issue of finance, consequently leading to the collapse of most businesses. Lekgoko invited stakeholders to come and share information with exhibitors on some bilateral and other agreements that were put in place to assist.