The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY)
Islamic Microfinance Women Empowerment Initiative
We believe that microfinance is a sustainable means of poverty alleviation leading to lasting, holistic development. Financial tools and training empower entrepreneurs to build businesses, support their families and transform their communities.
South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a living honour and recognition of the role played by more than 20,000 women who marched to the Union Building on August 9th in 1956 in protest against the apartheid pass laws extended to women. The status of women has not improved since the attainment of political freedom in 1994. Women continue to bear the brunt of poverty, economic deprivation, disease and gender based violence.
Both in the rural and urban environment, women often have to take on the role of caregiver, making employment options difficult. Despite not being able to work because of the task of childcare, the women of the house are still perceived as the people responsible for feeding the family (especially the mother). Almost 40% of children under the age of 7 years live only with their mother, while many live with their grandmothers.
Other than being under huge financial strain, women are more at risk of physical abuse. This often happens as a result of a sense of powerlessness that the man in the house may have because he is unemployed. Even in instances where the husband does earn a salary, many women are suffering physical violence at the hands of their partners. These women are often not economically independent and therefore continue to endure abusive relationships.
It goes without saying that the helpless and vulnerable situation of women need to be urgently reversed in order to ensure the full realization of women rights as key role players in development. Precedence has shown that once a woman is empowered, the whole household is empowered.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) has partnered with Al-Baraka Bank to implement the Islamic Microfinance Empowerment Initiative targeted at women in the previously disadvantaged communities. Five women were identified to take part in the project. All the women are engaged in some small income generating activities ranging from selling health products, selling second hand clothes, baking and confectionary, event organising and running home pre-schools.
One of the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs is the lack of basic business skills. Despite their enthusiasm and dedication to their small businesses, many women lack the basic skills to manage a business. WAMY embarked on a capacity building process to impart business skills required for a successful business. The group of women attended various workshops on,
• Marketing and Sales
• Customer focus
• Basic Book keeping
The capacity building sessions were very interactive and participatory. The women engaged in constructive and practical learning through reflecting on their businesses and identifying areas which need to be strengthened. Case studies of successful business models were also discussed in detail to motivate the women in becoming effective and successful business.
After attending these workshops, the women’s confidence and skills in managing a business were significantly improved. One of the outcomes of the workshops was the development of the business profiles and proper record keeping. The following is a summary of the business profiles;
The Islamic Microfinance Women Empowerment Initiative was launched during the national women month in South Africa which falls in August. The month of August is important in highlighting the numerous challenges encountered by women and finding possible solutions to some of these challenges. WAMY joined the rest of the country in commemorating the 2015 women month by launching the Islamic Microfinance Women Empowerment Initiative.
The initiative was launched by visiting the women trading and business locations and presenting the cheques for the business scale up. Four of the women live in different sections of Umlazi Town ship while the fourth beneficiary lives in the South Coast in the peri urban area of Magabeni.
Speaking during the handover of the cheques, WAMY Director Sheikh Saleem Banda applauded the women for their initiative and enthusiasm in their efforts to reduce household poverty and contributing to the well being of their families. He highlighted the critical role that women play in our society from being head of households to caring for the sick and orphans in the community. “I urge you continue with your efforts in addressing household poverty through the small scale businesses that you manage” added Sheikh Saleem Banda.
One of the beneficiaries, Ms. Joyce Ntombifuthi Cele who is a single mother of children thanked WAMY for the support to the women. “We are grateful to WAMY for the support to expand our business and we promise to grow our businesses and show that small scale businesses can help to reduce poverty in our country.”