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Women seminar stimulates strategic entrepreneurship
The first in a series of the annual Durban Business Fair Women Economic empowerment seminars was hailed by participating small businesses for providing a networking platform, extensive exposure, new clientele, valuable information and collaboration opportunities.  
The seminars were held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) on 31 March.
The number of attendees was limited to 100 people and 10 exhibitors due to Covid-19 protocols. In addition, approximately 1000 others joined the conversation online. The seminar was themed: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world.”
Nasiphi Ngwane, founder and Manager of Hair Native Studio and Laloba Organics who makes chemical-free hair and skin products said the pandemic has posed several challenges for emerging business owners. She applauded the City for providing the platform to market their products for free.
“The fair offered maximum exposure. We even made sales” Ngwane said.
Another businesswoman, Futhi Mkhize founder of Dr Phyto Medical Plants, which produces natural medication, echoed the same sentiments. She said the seminar presented a breakthrough for her business.
Mkhize said Covid-19 taught her the importance of business diversification, hence she explored opportunities in the health secto, which are currently in demand.
One of the panelists, Zibu Masotobe, Chief Executive Officer of Zoluhle Financial Fitness said if you want to have a sustainable business during and beyond Covid-19, it must be a business that can solve a problem. “Therefore, ask yourself now, is your business creating any breakthrough for people,” she said.
Ntsiki Biyela of Aslina Wines stressed the importance of not dwelling on business losses.
Dr Ziphozenkosi Nzimande and Dr Nokubonga Khoza gave valuable tips about health and wellness as well as beauty and style. Dr Nzimande advised attendees that you don’t need to be an expert to empower others.
Nonku Mthembu, eThekwini Municipality’s Deputy Head for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises Development said 10 small businesses selected from the Durban Business Fair database were afforded an opportunity to exhibit their products.
“We further issued R150 vouchers to 100 seminar attendees so that they buy from the exhibitors. This doubled whatever income they generated during the day and will increase their clientele base,” she said.
On the selection process, Mthembu said the City choose businesses that haven’t directly benefitted from the Municipality. The exhibitors also needed to have “high demand” products. “Our mandate is to create an enabling environment and to provide support for SMMEs,” added Mthembu.
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