The digitisation of trade has given Southern African women-led businesses the opportunity to leapfrog their participation, finally shrinking the gender gap in business. But for women to truly thrive in international trade, we need to keep working toward a world where women have equal access to essential export trade information and resources.
TFSA has capitalised on the shift towards digitisation of trade and designed a women-inclusive impact modelthat primarily delivers trade support, training and events through accessible digital platforms.
The future is female
In 2021, TFSA, in partnership with Future Females Business School and the UK-South Africa Tech Hub, successfully piloted our export training modules. This export training programme was tailored specifically at the unique needs of women entrepreneurs through a mix of masterclasses, coaching and mentorship. In December, we Zoomed in to cheer our 34 graduates from South Africa. The energy was amazing, and the excitement and determination of these women was palpable. In just 12 weeks, many of the participants had already made great strides in growing their businesses.
After completing this course, 94 per cent of the women said they had greater clarity on their business ideas and 97 per cent felt more confident in knowing the steps required to make their business a success. For some, this translated into immediate and actual business growth:
“My business has grown 10 per cent in the past 3 months, directly attributable to my involvement in the training programme. We are now geared for the export process and presenting to foreign markets. My level of focus and expertise with regards to digital strategic marketing has been significantly elevated.” Karen Fitzsimmons, Karen Fitzsimmons & Associates
From pilot to regional roll out
This month, TFSA, with Future Female, officially kicked off the regional roll out of the Export Trade Training programme in Southern Africa. During her visit to Namibia, George Barrett, Head of Trade Programming at the British High Commission Pretoria, together with the TFSA team, marked the kick-off at a brunch hosted by the British High Commission Namibia. During the visit, George and her team got the opportunity to meet some of the training participants, who run businesses in the cosmetics and natural ingredients sector.
Through the 8-week Export Trade Training programme, more than 100 Southern African businesswomen will receive a roadmap to export success through our accelerator bootcamp, 7 actionable modules, 1:1 mentorship with expert mentors, weekly group coaching, and gain access to our community forums and networking events. They will be able to access resources, content and tools that clearly show how to build a successful international trading business with support from expert mentors, coaches and a supportive community of like-minded women in trade.
The training will be rolled out through business support organisation partners in each of the countries:
Botswana African Women in Business
Eswatini Swaziland Fair Trade (SWIFT)
Lesotho Association for Women in Small Business
Mozambique African Women in Business
Namibia Akoma Trading & Minori Skinfield & Co.
South Africa African Women in Business
Coaches from each of these partner organisations have been empowered to support their local women entrepreneurs to understand, apply and trade using content from the TFSA School of Export training modules.
“I’m really enjoying working with the TFSA team. We’re learning from each other which is really important. Even us, as a business support organisation, we’re building our own capacity under this project, and that’s helping me to have a better understanding of how to help someone else to get their export somewhere.”
Julie Nixon, Country Director, Swaziland Fair Trade (SWIFT)
By programme end, TFSA aims to have better equipped our participants with the skills needed to build businesses that trade beyond local borders. We are so excited to see what opportunities this training will bring for the more than 100 Women in Trade signed up across Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.
If you would like to access the TFSA School of Export training modules for self-paced study, here is the link. Or if you would like to apply for the next cohort of training starting in April, you can start the process here.