Jenny Claasen is a woman who has paid her dues in the small business sector.
Today, a successful businesswoman, she regularly shares her experiences at networking sessions and assists in mentoring women entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses.
After being retrenched from her job, Claasen founded industrial material firm Ngyaphaya Y2K2010 Trading about five years ago. Since then she has won numerous business awards, testament to her success in business.
Addressing a group of about 200 women entrepreneurs last month at an event hosted by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism in honour of National Women’s Day, Claasen stressed the importance of bridging the information gap among women business owners.
The event was held at Cape Town’s Centre for the Book with the aim of highlighting the importance of contributions by women in the small business sector.
“After attending pro-women business gatherings, I was able to gather valuable information on resources that I can apply to my business.
“My business achievements today run parallel with the opportunities through the intervention I got from more experienced, but like-minded women,” says Classen, who is also a member of the South African Women’s Entrepreneurs Network.
Patricia September, the department’s deputy director of economic empowerment and stakeholder relations also encourages women entrepreneurs to mentor other women entrepreneurs and says this will help women to collectively grow their businesses.
September says many women could benefit from sharing useful business information and other non-financial support such as incubation and mentoring with one another.
“As people who juggle a life between family life, business and other responsibilities, women should link up in sharing tips and important information on how to be progressive contributors to the economy,” says September.
Fatima Laher, pro-bono manager at law firm Bowman Gilfillan and another keynote speaker at the event, says women should take advantage of her firm’s roll out of free pro-bono legal services for small companies.
“You may not just focus on the profit-generating side of things, also try to uplift yourself with proper knowledge of your business’s legal responsibilities,” she says. The event featured a procurement processes presentation by Woolworth’s procurement specialist Litha Kutta and a talk on small business tax initiatives by Jolene Simmons, the South African Revenue Service’s operations engagement educator.
Kutta says the retailer often deals with many women entrepreneurs who seek a toe-hold in becoming suppliers to the company.
“Woolworths has many opportunities for business and we find many of our prospective suppliers are women. And so Woolworths finds it difficult to ignore the promising work done by women-owned enterprises and the unique challenges they face.
“To assist all businesses Woolworths uses its streamlined processes, but the company also allows for struggling businesses to benefit from our range of enterprise development initiatives that we use to develop suppliers,” he says.
- Visit www.westerncape.gov.za for more information.