With the Swedish South African Partner Driven Chamber Programme as a base, Chamber Trade Sweden (CTS) entered into a strategic cooperation with the Cape Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the non-profit organization Mhani Gingi (MG).
The cooperation ran from December 13, 2011 to December 31, 2013. The Programme contributed to enhancing bilateral trade and private sector development through long-term, sustainable collaboration between the chambers, its members and other business networks tied to capacity building and experience sharing and trade promotion with a special focus on encouraging women’s economic empowerment.
About the partners
MG focuses a major part of its services on women in the poor townships of the Cape region. CCC is one of the strongest chambers in South Africa and keen to strengthen its relations with other chambers throughout Africa benchmarking services and building networks.
Future and on-going cooperation
The partnerships, especially between CTS and CCC, is on-going focusing on exchange of opportunities and ideas. CTS and CCC are currently pursuing a greater focus on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Africa involving not only Sweden and South Africa but also Ethiopia, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
Results from the partnership
– Cape Chamber and Chamber Trade Sweden
New services in Arbitration and Mediation- The African Commercial Dispute Settlement Centre, housed at the CCC, was successfully launched in April 2012. CCC and CTS built successful cooperation and did capacity building during the project which greatly contributed to building the institute and to promoting alternative dispute settlement in Africa. The dispute institute delivers significant value to the CCC’s export members, which number over 1000 and growing.
SME E-services, CSR and E-waste – Other services benchmarked within the partnership were in the area of new e-services targeting SME’s tied to matchmaking and procurement, CSR and a Chamber Trust Gold certification system, green technology and electronic waste management in Africa.
Trade Promotion and international networks – Through several delegations and exchanges CTS and CC has improved the relations and networks for Swedish respective South African companies. For instance within agribusiness. As a finale for the programme a Nordic Southern African Business Summit was held in Cape Town. There was a big international delegation present at the Summit with 16 Swedish companies, 12 companies from Botswana, 3 from Zimbabwe participating in the trade event to meet with more than 100 South African companies. The Swedish companies made 115 business contacts all together. 7 of the 13 Swedish companies have started cooperation between themselves.
More than a third of the business contacts has evolved into real business.
National and International (Women) Networks – The regional chambers in Sweden have thanks to the partnership participated in the chamber initiative International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge, IWEC. CTS has sent 4 successful international business women from Sweden as awardees to participate in IWEC in Barcelona, 2012 and in Peru, 2013. CTS has, thanks to this, built a base for strengthening its women in international trade and business network.
Empowerment and Business Development trainings
MG has during the two years focused on empowering women entrepreneurs in several townships in the Cape Region, by holding special training and coaching sessions. As part of this, some very concrete results have been reached:
- The project has trained trainers to form power-teams to empower women in groups by using a concept called KKiKK Games. Over 35 women entrepreneurs from townships participate regularly in a Swedish Coaching Programme aiming to develop their business. Over 40 mentors from established business and mentees from the MG network are partnering in a Mentoring Programme. Women from the townships have been trained in skills such as pottery and have – supported by MG experts – exhibited their products in local fairs. Cape Grace – a 5-star hotel – is gathering used soaps from guests to give to a MG cooperative, which cleans the soap and molds new bars to sell at markets.
- MG‘s has trained its own trainers which now continue to train women in groups from the townships in pottery, soap production, sewing, beeding, gardening and other business professional skills.
- A cooperation was struck with Cape Grace hotel to train individual women from the MG in various professional hotel and restaurant skills
Innovation Trade Fair – The big task during 2013 was the preparing for the Women’s Innovation Trade Fair which was successfully held in March 2014 and which was prepared by several build-uip events during 2013. This involved a core group of 10 people actively working to prepare the Trade Fair.
Strengthened international networks – Important progress was made in expanding MG’s national and international network tying MG to the women networks at the CCCs as well as other women entrepreneur organizations in Southern Africa, the US and Russia.