'Women must get down to business'

NOSIZWE Nokwe, head of the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency, has called on women to actively take up business opportunities ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Speaking at the Sowetan Women's Club event held at Emnotweni Arena in Nelspruit last night, Nokwe said opportunities in the province were "boundless" for women with entrepreneurial flair.

"Mpumalanga is rich with under-exploited opportunities in sectors such as tourism, guest houses, lodges and restaurants to meet all international budgets and tastes," she said, adding that services like laundry businesses would also succeed - especially next year.

"We need to do well at hosting 2010 in Mpumalanga so that things like the International Convention Centre (a project approved this year) will be utilised for major international events - in turn creating a better economy for the province.

"Budding entrepreneurs, who have the drive and capacity to juggle work and family life - are the types of people that will succeed in this area."

Giving tips on how women can improve their businesses, Nokwe said it was important to "fully understand" a business plan.

"Ensure you have cash flow and sales forecasts up to date, that you understand them and monitor them on a monthly basis. Refresh them on a quarterly basis - based on what is happening in the market.

"Never underestimate the power of marketing.

"Ensure you have enough budget to market yourself - even when you are not turning over revenue to the levels you expected in a particular month," Nokwe said.

"Ensure that your product is required by the market and that you understand your customer. Networking is also important," she said.

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency chief executive Charles Ndabeni said government and the private sector needed to work together to make South Africa a tourist destination of choice.

After the main speeches, 250 guests, among them local entrepreneurs and government officials, enjoyed the fine food which has become synonymous with the women's club - while gospel artist Lundi put on a great show.

The event was held in conjunction with Kahlua, Revlon and Visa - who came on board this year as sponsors.