The Woman of Stature Foundation (WOSF) addresses the socio-economic challenges that are endemic to South Africa. The company’s aim is to inspire excellence by acknowledging the achievements of women in business.
Woman of Stature’s involvement is accomplished by running different supportive programmes. The Woman Rise programme is such an initiative. It aims at uplifting young female professionals and business owners. The programme comprises training, coaching and mentoring sessions to provide assistance regarding the two core challenges that businesswomen have to mitigate in our economy: The first critical challenge is the negative economic and social environment currently dominating in South Africa. The second economical challenge isinequality, because women-owned, small businesses experience this first hand.
As part of this programme WOSF find out who the entrepreneur is, what her greatest needs are and then establish a means of support. If it is a lack of skill on her behalf, then WOSF will support with mentorship and match her with partners that she can collaborate with. Charlotte du Plessis, who stands at the head of WOSF, condemns competitive behaviour and she prefers to underwrite collaborations rather than competitiveness. Charlotte promotes sustainable business and says, “We have to look at various factors. We could introduce them to people who can support with either equipment or finance. As long as the business model is sustainable. If it is not sustainable we’ll advise them to look at something different, rather than sending them on a longer path of failure.”
A hurdle, especially for start-up business, is that the owner may not have the skill to properly run the business, which is a recipe for the failure and the high rate of business failures proves it. Recently many women were forced into entrepreneurship by virtue of the fact that they have to put food on the table. Often they only have domestic skills, but how do they turn that into a business if they have no business knowledge? Furthermore, these women operate in the informal trading sector and usually only live from hand to mouth.
The WOSF-team helps with strategic planning to find or generate resources for these women. Charlotte explains: “We are driving an agenda to help these woman to survive – to help them to not give up too soon, but to help them to put right infrastructure and systems in place. That way we can help them navigate a more successful business.” And it is tough at the moment – women struggle to get funding. They don’t have the skillset to apply for funding, but WOSF teaches them the fundamentals of business and the application processes of financial institutions. The difficult task for WOSF is to create access to the necessary knowledge and development to understand the full concept of business.
Charlotte and WOSF very recently became involved in the life of a patron of Diepsloot who found himself in dire need. Throughout the pandemic he spent his time and money to help people in need, but he was running on empty as his resources were totally exhausted. WOSF could immediately stand in with some food vouchers and link him up with someone who grows organic vegetables. With the necessary support he had a small vegetable stall in operation within two weeks.
You may wonder why Woman of Stature got involved? And rightly so, but Charlotte elaborates on the matter, “It’s not about whether it’s a man or a woman. It’s not about that. We as South Africans have to unite. We have to help one another – irrespective of race, colour, creed or religion. It’s not about that. There’s a women and a child involved in that relationship. So by helping the man, we helped a family.”
WOSF partners up with big business for financial (and other) support, such as Imperial, Nedbank and AfricaRAS, but they also get support from business owners who have gone through similar situations themselves. The Eagle Membership Programme was established as a means of recruiting funders and any individual, business or organisation can get involved as a sponsor for anything between R5,000 and R50,000.
Charlotte actively scouts for funders who want to become part of the WOSF-solution and she has built up a large network of contacts over the years and almost act as a recruitment officer at times, “I am a go-to person when they are looking to make some sort of contribution into the lives of women.”
Women are homemakers. Women are the mothers of future leaders. Women are the cornerstone of society.