Ujimabakwena set to take off

FIKILE Zikhali, 64, and members of her women's cooperative have proven that age is no impediment when one is fired up to achieve a particular goal.

Zikhali and the group of women graduated from the Faranani Rural Women Training Initiative armed with new business skills and the funds to set up their business.

The other graduands are Tshidi Sethoga, Grace Mashabela, Joyce Siphiri and Thabo Matsobane.

The women started a cooperative in Roodepoort two years ago. They had neither business skills nor educational qualifications.

Zikhali and the other four women merged two cooperatives, both manufacturing shoes, to form the Ujimabakwena Primary Workers Cooperative in 2008.

Zikhali is deputy chairperson of the cooperative.

The project employs 83 people from the Princess settlement.

The Faranani initiative provides women in rural areas with free entrepreneurial skills.

"During the training we learnt marketing, business management, costing and how to manage our finances," Zikhali SAID.

"We produced 110000 pairs of shoes for the Gauteng department of social development and we have just made 300 pairs for the SA Navy," Zikhali said.

The training is funded by PriceWaterHouseCoopers to the tune of R1,2 million a year.

Training is conducted by Business Skills South Africa, formed in 1992 to address the skills shortage.

Faranani operates in rural areas in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, said Faranani national director Shirley Machaba.

She said that the company had formed a partnership with People Opposed to Women Abuse.

Yesterday, Gauteng MEC for agriculture, conservation and environment Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said: "This initiative commits us to prioritise skills development, food security and job creation."