SAWEN National meeting ICC Durban

Programme Director
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Sanibonani, good morning, dumelang, goeie more, molo.

I’m sure those of us who attended last night’s awards ceremony enjoyed the occasion. Once again if the winners are amongst us, we say well done. Let me also pay tribute to all my predecessors, the previous Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry who all worked tirelessly and passionately in the pursuit of women’s economic empowerment. It is largely through their efforts and the passion of people who served and is serving as board members and provincial chairs that we are all able to be here today. Your efforts may go unheralded but definitely not unnoticed.

Ladies and gentlemen, SAWEN has had its fair share of challenges, like any organization. These challenges are not insurmountable or terminal. I see these challenges as an opportunity to grow the organization to great heights. We have many people connected to SAWEN in different capacities, either as members, as provincial leadership, as board members, as officials. All of us have an important role to play in building this organization.

Ladies and gentlemen over the past few months in various publications I have come across articles where women who have started their own businesses mentioned that it was after attending a SAWEN meeting that they were inspired to enter this difficult terrain. This is a good sign, your organization is relevant, and there is a compelling reason for its survival.

Honoured guests, this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of President uTata Mandela from prison. To honour this icon the theme for this year’s State of the Nation Address was, “Celebrating the legacy of Mandela, Contribute to nation-building”.

What greater example can we use but that of Madiba himself, someone so committed to building this nation that he put was willing to put his own needs second to that of the people of this great country of ours. So, ladies and gentlemen, let us follow the example given to us, let us build the organization and in this way build our nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, the dti is committed to continue our support to this initiative of ours called SAWEN. It is in our and our country’s interest to have a healthy, well functioning organization committed to serving the needs of all women, aspiring as well as established business women in urban, peri-urban and rural communities.

We have to grow our numbers and commit to reaching more women, to make our programmes relevant to the needs of a changing environment and assist in sourcing business opportunities for women. I commit my time and energy to assist in reaching as many communities as possible to grow SAWEN. Ladies and gentlemen, later the Head of the Gender Unit and the acting CEO of SAWEN will give details and make suggestions on how from the department’s side we see SAWEN growing.

We also need your ideas and inputs to complete the process and my appeal therefore to you is to be actively involved in this process. Make your suggestions but also listen to other views and then decide what would be in the best interest of the organization.

Ladies and gentlemen last week Minister Davies announced the new Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2, a plan by government and the dti in particular to grow our economy by creating jobs and increasing our manufacturing capacity. Later this year we will draft and release our strategy for small business. This is definitely the year of action, the year that we must deliver to the people of our country.

Ladies and gentleman these plans of ours will come to nothing without the participation of our communities, in this instance the women who are part of the SAWEN community. Ask the officials and myself as part of the dti leadership collective how these plans would benefit women owned businesses. There will be public hearings by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the IPAP, organize and where possible send your representatives to those hearings, to influence policy. You may also make written submissions but please read the document first.

This would be in keeping with the original objectives that, ‘SAWEN be an overarching gender equality policy influencing body’, amongst other things. Ladies and gentlemen as I conclude I wish to leave you with words of wisdom and encouragement for the work that we do and to tackle the task that faces us in improving the conditions for the women of our country.

“You are given a gift that is unique; develop your character to the level that you want. You are created in His image. Use your mind to achieve great things. You are ungumgqotswa ka Jehovah, born to be great and born to do great things”, so it says in 1 Chronicles.
Do great things! I thank you

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