NGO empowering 16,000 women’s enterprises

A businesswoman uses a laptop. Nama is helping more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to remove structural barriers to gender equality and enhance women’s economic empowerment. It uses an e-commerce platform dubbed #Buyfromwomen.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Nama Women Advancement is an NGO whose aim is to create an enabling environment to promote gender equality and inclusive economic and social growth.
  • Its ongoing programme was launched in 2018 in partnership with the UN Women to build and maximise the capacity of businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts.

Nama Women Advancement is helping more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to remove structural barriers to gender equality and enhance women’s economic empowerment.

The organisation is doing this through the Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs flagship programme, which is enabling the enterprises to participate in value chains in South Africa and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Nama is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to create an enabling environment to promote gender equality and inclusive economic and social growth.

The initiative was launched in 2018 in partnership with the UN Women to build and maximise the capacity of the businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts, especially in non-traditional areas.

It has also brought on board governments, the private sector, investors, civil society, women entrepreneurs, and women’s enterprise associations. It is also advocating dialogue to place gender-responsive procurement as a strategic lever for driving women's enterprise development.

Support system

By leveraging the commitment of governments and corporate sectors, the programme also aims to foster the creation of an SME support ecosystem and facilitate access to new procurement markets and finance while addressing the demand and supply constraints of buyers and entrepreneurs.

Speaking when participating in a series of round-table discussions, briefing meetings, and field visits in South Africa, Nama director Reem BinKaram outlined the transformational potential of creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

She underscored the importance of leveraging gender-responsive procurement as a force for strengthening the capacities of women business owners to access finance and enterprise development.

"We are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurs and business owners, by creating market opportunities for women-led businesses worldwide. Providing them with equal opportunities enables women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive as leaders, innovators, and high-impact change makers,” she said.

Tangible outcomes

Aleta Miller, South Africa Multi-Country Representative for UN Women, said their long-standing partnership with Nama and the South African government has led to positive, tangible outcomes for women across that country.

“What's made the programme implemented with support of Nama so successful, is working at all levels to overcome systemic structural barriers. This was done by facilitating women's access to procurement opportunities from both the public and private sector by creating an enabling environment, and providing consistent capacity support to women-owned enterprises in South Africa,” said Miller.

She noted South Africa demonstrates the power of bringing women into the economy, adding Nama has played a key role in supporting a host of successful initiatives.

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under the flagship programme have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains.

A total of 6,452 women entrepreneurs have benefitted from skills and capacity development programmes, enhancing their participation in procurement processes and increasing their access to business opportunities, income, and growth.

Five sustainable and scalable capacity-building ecosystem approaches and models for women-owned businesses have also been developed here to date.

E-commerce

Using an innovative e-commerce platform dubbed #Buyfromwomen, the flagship project has connected women owned enterprises in energy, transport, agriculture and general entrepreneurship to improve access to markets.

The Learning Management System (LMS), which is also part of the initiative, has assisted women in accessing online self-paced training during Covid-19. Of the 3,693 women who were profiled, 1,264 had enrolled on the LMS.

The initiative has received a major boost in South Africa after the government earmarked 40 per cent of public procurement projects for women-owned enterprises.

Key government departments, such as Energy and Mineral Resources, and Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, have commenced procurement spending on women-owned businesses in the sanitary dignity value chain.

Representatives of women associations, local NGOs, and training institutions were part of the visit that highlighted the progress of Nama’s flagship activities in South Africa to identify best practice and lessons learnt.

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