Picture: 123RF/ALEKSANDR DAVYDOV
Picture: 123RF/ALEKSANDR DAVYDOV

SA’s drive to strengthen women-owned businesses has received more than a half a billion rand boost.

This week, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group, announced it will invest R600m in Business Partners, a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium owner-managed businesses in SA.

The investment will enable more female business owners in SA to access capital.

The government has stated its intention to focus on empowering women-owned businesses, which have previously been sidelined. In September, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that by tackling unequal economic power dynamics the government can reduce the vulnerability of women to abuse. Thus, he said, the government will continue to prioritise women when it comes to access to employment, training opportunities and procurement of services.

“We call upon the private sector to do the same. The government is committed to reaching its target to set aside 30% of the value of its procurement for women-owned businesses, and to progressively increase that to 40%,” Ramaphosa said at the time.

Ben Bierman, MD of Business Partners, said this week: “We are excited about this partnership with the IFC and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative because it draws on their global expertise in supporting women in business, and leverages [our] strengths in the SA market.”

Adamou Labara, IFC country manager for SA, said female entrepreneurs are changing the landscape of the global economy, creating sustainable jobs and economic growth. “When we help unlock financing for women-owned businesses we support an important engine of job creation in SA.” 

The deal is supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility — a global finance facility dedicated to expanding access to capital for female entrepreneurs. It was launched in 2014 by the IFC through its “banking on women” programme, and the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative to foster economic growth by providing female entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education, as well as access to capital.

Charlotte Keenan, global head of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, said, “We are committed to expanding access to finance and business education for women-owned businesses. Our partnership in SA allows us to work with an experienced local institution, and to accelerate its ability to help more women-owned enterprises in this important market grow.”

phakathib@businesslive.co.za