The world has gone through one of the worst recessions in recent history. South Africa has not been spared the adverse impact this has had on a number of emerging economies. Government is continuously challenged to initiate and accelerate various stimulus programs that will enable the country to recover from the recession and achieve its full economic potential.
This can only be achieved through, amongst other, the stimulation and active support of entrepreneurial activity in a number of sectors in the economy. Thus, the establishment of meaningful support structures for women owned businesses would contribute immensely toward the creation of meaningful job opportunities for both women and youth, which in turn could ultimately contribute to the alleviation of poverty and crime.
Recent studies have shown that South Africa still lags behind when it comes to the economic development and empowerment of women. Whilst the dawn of democracy ushered a renewed focus in this area, women continue to be under-represented, even in sectors where they are primary consumers of products and services, as well as purchasing decision makers within the sectors, for example the food industry and the hospitality industry.
The FOOD AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY has no visible initiatives or development programs targeted at empowering women owned businesses despite the fact that a large number of women are actively involved and employed in the sector. The sustainability of the sector lies in future aggressive enterprise development initiatives, targeted at women owned business. Recent investigation by the labour minister into remuneration practices confirms the slow pace of transformation in this sector. Women must be given an opportunity to establish and grow their businesses in the sector and garner support in the pursuit of greater entrepreneurial ventures.
South Africa’s recent hosting of the Soccer World Cup demonstrated how opportunities can be lost by women owned businesses simply because women in the food and hospitality sector did not have a representative body that could speak with one collective voice. Women actively involved in this sector must LEAD this transformation giving women a single and powerful voice.