580 08.07.2013 North West ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, speaks to Salaminah Mohalne(L) and Amogelang Mashoba(R), as ANC delegates visited commuters at Potchefstroom taxi rank, to campaign on the up coming elections, North West. Picture: Itumeleng English

Rustenburg -A group of women entrepreneurs in the North West have won the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Female Entrepreneur Award for 2014, the office of the North West Premier said on Saturday.

The Kopanang Primary Agricultural Co-operative from the Gopane village in the Ngaka Modiri Molema district was crowned winners on Friday night.

“Having resolved to make agriculture our number one priority in terms of economic development, I wish to express my confidence in the work being done by women of this province,” premier Supra Mahumapelo said in a statement.

The co-operative had also won R1.7 million worth of infrastructure support during the awards ceremony that was held in Klerksdorp on Friday.

The annual ceremony was hosted by the Department of Rural Development in the North West province and was attended by Mahumapelo and around 500 women and stakeholders in the agriculture sector.

“Mahumapelo said the nature of this female empowerment programme fits well into the conceived plan of rebranding, repositioning and renewal of the province,” spokeswoman Bonolo Mohlakoana said in a statement.

The co-operative, which comprised of five women, collected animal fat from the local abattoirs and at local events, which they process to produce bar soaps that were South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) approved.

“The soaps are sold within the local communities, around and outside the province,” said Mohlakoana.

Founder and chairperson of the co-operative, Motlalepula Moroeng who started the project in 2012, said their win called for the creation of more jobs, both by the co-operative as well as locally.

Seventeen other women-owned projects, in five categories, qualified for participation in this year's competition.

The department would provide infrastructure support of between R500 000 and R750 000 for the respective category winners.

“These category winners will represent the province at the National DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards ceremony to be held at Mmabatho Convention Centre on 1/8Friday 3/8.

The DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards is an empowerment programme which was in its 15th year. It was initiated to “recognise, celebrate, honour and reward the continuous contribution made by women in the fight against hunger, poverty and unemployment among the rural communities,” said Mohlakoana.