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Women scoop the spoils at annual small business awards

Economy

Sungula Nkabinde

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From Left to right. Serita Swart whose company, Kxo’xo, won second place for the Best new Business Award; Catherine Wijnberg whose company, Fetola won the Services Sector Award, and Beauty Mbongwa whose company, Amizizi Coopertive, won the Trade Sector Award AT THE AFRICA SMME AWARDS 2011 held at the Gold Reef City Hotel on the 13th October. supplied:Catherine Wijnberg

Fetola overcame stiff competition to take the services sector prize at the 2011 Africa Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) awards held in Johannesburg last week.

The specialist enterprise development, corporate social investment and skills training organisation was recognised for its efforts in facilitating the success of emerging entrepreneurs, SMMEs, grassroots projects and community-based organisations nationally.

Fetola founder and director Catherine Wijnberg said she started the company in 2006 with the goal of bridging South Africa’s poverty gap by stimulating entrepreneurship and giving businesses a return on their corporate social responsibility investments.

“This award is a fantastic acknowledgement of our efforts to make a difference to the small business sector in South Africa, but the beauty of it is that the task is never done and we have to constantly seek ways to raise our game and make more impact,” she said.

The company designs and implements enterprise development projects that assist black-owned, women-owned, rural and community-based enterprises in becoming sustainable.

It further teaches “the business of business”, an approach built around offering accessible, practical and replicable business solutions that have relevance irrespective of business focus, sector or structure.

“What we have seen is that many interventions in the SMME arena tend to focus on isolated areas of operation, such as product development, production or sales. This ‘silo’ approach neglects to address other crucial areas needed for sustainable growth.

“In our programmes, we strive to address all the issues and challenges an organisation may face across the value chain,” Wijnberg said.

Serita Swart’s company came second in the Best New Business category and Beauty Mbongwa’s business was placed third in the trade sector.

Swart’s business, Kxo’xo, produces handmade African game décor while Mbongwa’s Amazizi Co-operative employs 65 staff in the rural community of Obonjaneni to do beadwork, wood carving and grass basket weaving, among other things.

“I am very happy about the award. I didn’t know I was going to get it but I think it will be good for my business,” said Mbongwa, who started her business in 1993.

“Actually, what made this award even more special was the fact that two of the beneficiaries that we support through our Old Mutual Legends programme were also finalists, but in different categories,” Mbongwa said.

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