De Beers Group extend partnership to empower southern African female entrepreneurs

De Beers Group and United Nations (UN) Women have announced a three-year extension of their collaborative initiative, the EntreprenHER program.

Written by Jewellery World

In a significant stride towards fostering economic empowerment and gender equality, De Beers Group and United Nations (UN) Women have announced a three-year extension of their collaborative initiative, the EntreprenHER program. The announcement was made at a ceremony held in Gaborone, Botswana, marking the next phase of their commitment to empower women entrepreneurs in southern Africa.

Since its inception in 2017 under the name AWOME, the program has successfully supported nearly 2500 women entrepreneurs operating micro-enterprises in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The initiative, now rebranded as EntreprenHER, aims to facilitate the growth and formalisation of women-led businesses, creating job opportunities and generating secure incomes.

The upcoming phase of the program will expand its reach, supporting an additional 1500 women entrepreneurs across the three countries. This expansion will include comprehensive capacity building in areas such as business and life skills, networking, mentoring, and a renewed emphasis on digital literacy.

Her Excellency Neo Jane Masisi, First Lady of the Republic of Botswana, speaks to an entrepreneur.

Recognising the critical barrier to access to finance for many women entrepreneurs, the program will introduce small grants and loans for eligible businesses. This strategic move aligns with the feedback received from past participants and emphasises the commitment to addressing the diverse needs of women in business.

A notable aspect of the EntreprenHER program is its dedication to breaking gender norms in business sectors. The initiative will actively engage women entrepreneurs in traditionally male-dominated fields such as car mechanics, carpentry, and plumbing. Furthermore, support will be extended to women farmers adopting Climate Smart Agriculture technologies, enhancing productivity and resilience.

The program’s collaborative efforts with the gender ministries in Botswana and Namibia underscore a commitment to working hand-in-hand with local governments to achieve sustainable impact. Namibia’s First Lady, Monica Geingos, commended the program for empowering grassroots women entrepreneurs, while Botswana’s First Lady, Neo Jane Masisi, emphasised the alignment of the initiative with the government’s focus on creating a sustainable and inclusive economy.

Dignitaries attend the De Beers EntreprenHER event

De Beers Group chief executive officer, Al Cook, highlighted the vital role that women-owned micro-enterprises play in communities and expressed the company’s anticipation in continuing to contribute to gender equality in host countries. UN Women Representative for the South Africa Multi-Country Office, Aleta Miller, stressed the importance of economic participation for achieving gender equality and applauded the EntreprenHER program’s focus on accelerating women-owned micro-entrepreneurs.

In support of these efforts, Botswana’s Minister of Youth, Gender, Sports, and Culture, Tumiso MacDonald Rakgare, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment. He highlighted the various initiatives and legislative frameworks, including the Economic Inclusion Act of 2021, adopted to promote the effective participation of citizens in the growth and development of the economy.

As the EntreprenHER program enters its third phase, it promises to build on past successes and lessons learned, equipping women entrepreneurs in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa to start and run sustainable businesses that secure the livelihoods of their communities. The collaborative efforts of De Beers Group and UN Women exemplify a shared commitment to realising the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly “No poverty” and “Gender equality,” and promoting an inclusive and prosperous future for southern Africa.

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