SheTrades programme unlocks opportunities, networks

Businesswomen given wings to soar higher

Funeka Bolujoko runs Master Teas, a business that sells herbal teas.
Funeka Bolujoko runs Master Teas, a business that sells herbal teas.
Image: SUPPLIED

Women entrepreneurs have another excellent platform to grow themselves and their businesses, through a new initiative launched by the department of small business development, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

ITC runs a programme called SheTrades, which seeks to connect women-owned small and medium businesses with local, regional and international markets. SheTrades recently launched in South Africa and Liya Cherian, a specialist of export development at SEDA, says this exciting new initiative provides a number of opportunities for women entrepreneurs, who can sign up for free membership to the SheTrades platform.

“Women-owned businesses can connect with other businesses and build a strong network for trade. They can also sell their products and services by posting offers on the platform. Buyers can then see these offers and make orders.”

Cherian adds that members are also given access to a wide variety of free e-learning materials. “The platform has a Virtual Learning Space, which offers online courses, live webinars and market tools that cover various trade-related topics, to equip women entrepreneurs with knowledge and skills to grow their businesses.”

SheTrades South Africa’s goal is to provide at least 50,000 women-owned businesses with a unique network and platform to connect to markets by 2023.

The initiative has already been launched in several other African countries and regions, including Zambia, Ghana, Gambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and West Africa. Thousands of women-owned businesses have benefitted from the platform, with some notable success stories.

In Nigeria, Teju and Funeka Bolujoko run a business that sells herbal teas, called Master Teas. Since joining SheTrades in 2019, Funke has attended various workshops and webinars offered by the platform, focusing on topics such as supply chain management, export market strategy, quality management and food safety, which have helped her to grow her business and receive her first orders from supermarket giant Shoprite.

“By the grace of God, I believe it is the beginning of greater things to come because of the visibility the Master Tea products had received from exhibiting under the SheTrades pavilion at two international fairs,” says Bolujoko.

If you are a female entrepreneur and want to take your business to the next level, you can sign up for the SheTrades South Africa programme on  shetrades.com.

• This article first appeared in GCIS's Vukuzenzele

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