Introducing Matoyana Media’s latest “In the Spotlight” feature where we’re focusing on something close to our Founder, Nokwazi Mzobe’s heart. Nokwazi is also the Founder and Project Lead for Akwande ukukhanya, an Early Childhood Development (Creche) Owner Empowerment Programme. It is a non-fee women’s empowerment business skills training which is targeted at township women who run Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs). This project aims to improve the sustainability of women-led businesses in South African townships and to improve the quality of early childhood education in poorer communities. With many thanks to the Pampers brand who have sponsored the empowerment programme.
About the Participants
The training participants are female social entrepreneurs, based in Diepsloot where the majority of the population live in poverty with inadequate housing, high levels of unemployment, crime and disease. Some of the economic activity in the area is survivalist with profit margins lacking to get people out of poverty traps that they find themselves in. Most of the business owners involved in Akwande ukukhanya started their crèches because they identified a problem within their community where young children didn’t have access to early childhood development and they decided to open ECD centres that operate for long hours (06h00 to 18h00 hours).
Further Statistics are –
- There are 22 female participants
- Heading 22 crèches
- 95% of the ECDs are ran by the original owners/founders
- The majority of women are self-funded
- Collectively they employ 78 female teachers
- Collectively they teach 1099 children
- The years of operation range from 3 to20 plus years old, and;
- The age group of the owners / founders ranges from: 25 to71 years old.
The Project Overview
- July – August the team spent time identifying and selecting participants and project partners;
- September to December 2019 – The ECD began with training, mentorship, site visits and personal development
- February to March 2020 –The training, mentorship, site visits and personal development continued
- April to June 2020 (COVID-19 lockdown Level Three in South Africa) – This was a stage of eLearning, weekly calls, Facebook learning and WhatsApp Connect training – with their analyst Mokgadi Molopa sourcing food parcels for the women and their teachers.
- July – August the team will resume outstanding training and continue with weekly coaching and check-ins, whilst helping support the women to be “Covid” ready – and help them source funds to restart their businesses.
- The next steps with the women of this ECD is to liaise with interested parties for leadership development as well raise funds to assist Akwande ukukhanyato restart.
To date Nokwazi Mzobe (the Project Leader) and her team have conducted 21 trainings with an average attendance rate of 82%. When Matoyana training team asked for feedback from the ECD trainees, this is what they shared on social media:
- “I speak for all of us when I say this session was an eye opener, we need more time with this one.”
- ‘’I’ve never had someone to teach me about the internet, this was very exciting.’’
- “I love my teacher. It is not easy teaching big person like me. If you don’t understand he explained until you understood.”
- “I will now have two pockets for personal use and business use.”
- “I still need more information.”
- “Practical of the work, so we able to implement everything we learned in this course.”
Part of the training has been to ask the women to engage with the key challenges which they come up against daily, as a way to address and track issues going forward. These are the areas which are most challenging for them:
- The women are not paying themselves a salary
- A high percentage of parents can’t pay the school fees
- Revenue generated is not enough to cover teachers salaries
- There are instances where the ECD’sstruggle to adherewith the necessary compliance requirements
- Many need to expand their premises, but are limited based on their location
- The staff turnover is high
- Staff need more training, and;
- There is employee theft.
Quality food is expensive to feed children.
The crime in Diepsloot is a major concern.
Access to the internet for online communication and creating content is difficult without funds.
The Social Impact of Akwande ukukhanya
The project was designed to ensure that:
- Women were empowered
- Support of local business & other SMEs
- Community partnerships were key
- Local job creation
The Matoyana team employed a local youth as the Community business analyst on the project;
- They partnered with the National Children and Violence Trust (NCVT which is a local non-profit) and thus partly subsidized an employee salary – who assists on the project.
- They use a local Caterer to provide tea and lunch for the training
- All training was done locally (pre-COVID-19) so participants don’t have to travel out of their community. The tables for the training sessions were also hired locally for the first six sessions.
- Training is now conducted at a local Church.
Partnering with a non-profit also helps the ECD women with other social programs – like having access to Social workers;
The interviews were initially conducted at the local Police Station, creating positivity and support within in community. All of the other Akwande ukukhanya project suppliers are either from the community, small businesses or Non-Profits Organisations.
Read more about the Akwande ukukhanya Impact in Action on our blog.