Nedbank's chief executive Mike Brown with Pepper.

JOHANNESBURG - South African bank Nedbank said it had partnered with business network Woman of Stature to launch a self-development and entrepreneurial initiative focusing on the growth and development of women.

The bank said 50 women chosen for their "intrinsic qualities and drive as change agents", their business savvy and ability to impact lives in the broader community would participate in the programme.

Woman of Stature, founded five years ago, is a networking organisation which helps women from varying backgrounds and races to become entrepreneurs.

South Africa's government has called on companies to sponsor programmes aimed at nurturing small and medium sized business in the face of a stubbornly high unemployment rate of nearly 27 percent of the labour force.

- African News Agency (ANA)