The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) is playing its part in fighting the vast challenges faced by women daily in the chemical sector. One of its projects, the CHIETA 12-month Small Business Programme, is upskilling women entrepreneurs in business development.
Last year the programme trained 49 delegates in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni at a cost of over R1.4-million. According to CHIETA CEO Yershen Pillay, the response to the programme and the impact on individual businesses was extremely encouraging.
“We face severe skills shortages in engineering sectors in this country, which can hinder economic growth. To bridge this gap, we need to see a change in attitudes towards women in engineering – both how they are perceived in industry and how they themselves view engineering,” he said. “This course is proving to be a firm steppingstone to business growth in our vibrant chemical engineering sector.”
Several women entrepreneurs, who graduated last year after attending the course, have hailed CHIETA’s efforts as groundbreaking. Koketso Mashishi, who is the owner of Haimish skincare products, said that she has benefited from several CHIETA initiatives. She was part of the University of Johannesburg CHIETA group in 2020 and passed her Small Business Enrichment Programme.
“CHIETA also enabled me to complete my N2 in Chemical Manufacturing, to achieve my certificate in the SEDA Quality Management Systems course and to attend digital marketing training,” she said.
“Many opportunities have opened for me since joining CHIETA. Looking ahead, I believe that women manufacturers and formulation developers need to provide a platform to train other women interested in participating in the industry.” Dichaba Kubayi, the owner of Hygiene cleaning products and services, waxed lyrical about CHIETA for its valuable training and networking opportunities.
“I have experienced the misconception that women are not as capable as men at owning and running a business in the chemical sector,” she told Vutivi News. “What people need to understand is that it is in a woman’s nature to grow and enhance anything we set our minds to – from raising children to building businesses. I do see it as my task to educate people and dispel such misconceptions.”
Kubayi said that the participation of women in the chemical sector could be strengthened by bringing more women onto the boards and ensuring that they were part of policymaking processes. She also said it was critical to generate exposure of successful women in the sector to the export market, which in turn would create industry growth.
Pillay encouraged the industry to make a point of supporting women-owned businesses in the chemical sector. “The fact is, according to a UN Global Compact article, businesses that invest into the importance of gender equality, experience higher productivity, higher return on investment, and higher consumer satisfaction,” he said.
“It’s worth it!”