To empower women, we need to educate

The business venture of SSA started when they realized, the far reaching negative impact of discontinuing Sewing as a school subject, had on the job creation market in the lower end of the job market.  The lack of sewing as a skill created a major skills and income generating gap, that previously was passed down from generation to generation. As little as 30 to 40 years ago, many households were kept together by mothers generating an income from sewing interventions to local community.

In SSA’s engagement with small enterprises in townships, it was evident that they require technical enterprise support, accredited products in their quest to access markets with quality services and products.

At 30.1% the black African population has the highest unemployment and lowest absorption rate in South Africa. The following analysis tells us the characteristics of the unfortunate people who are liable to be at the end of the queue for employment. Improving their characteristics may improve their place in the queue, but it will not necessarily reduce unemployment. In the African group – the group that suffers such catastrophically high unemployment rates – human capital characteristics such as education and employment experience dramatically reduce the chances of unemployment. However, a policy prescription that African education and skills should therefore be upgraded may not solve the problem: unless there are more jobs in the economy, upgrading the education of Africans will at best change the composition of employment in their favour. Of course, it is possible that expanding education, skills and funding opportunities will reduce overall unemployment. The mechanism might be to increase the supply of skilled labour, for which there is market, and to decrease the supply of unskilled labour.

Unemployment rate (%), by age, education, gender, region, and race

 Race Broad definition Narrow definition Broad-narrow gap
African 41.2 26.2 15.0
Colored 23.3 19.4 3.9
Indian 17.1 14.3 2.8
White 6.3 4.2 2.1
16-24 51.4 37.8 13.6
25-35 35.3 23.3 12.0
36-45 25.2 14.3 10.9
46-55 21.3 11.0 10.3
56-64 16.9 8.5 8.4
None 38.7 20.1 18.6
Primary 42.5 26.8 15.7
Junior 35.3 23.5 11.8
Secondary 28.3 19.5 8.8
Higher 5.7 3.9 1.8
Male 26.2 17.3 8.9
Female 40.7 25.3 15.4
Rural 40.3 23.4 16.9
Urban 27.9 19.1 8.8

Source: October Household Survey, 1994.

Sewing Services Center as a business venture and as part of the Sewing Hub Model is one of the best ways to empower the job market of South Africa on the lowest end of the market; with the least limitations if measured against most start-up businesses.

SSA’s ultimate goal is to facilitate the integration of township economies into the mainstream, and enhance it productive capacity, by identify, empower, and incorporate individuals from previous disadvantage groups or households, to become sustainable small enterprises in rural areas that will contribute to increased economic growth and employment, with the ongoing mentoring, support, training and business resources delivered by SSA.