March 17, 2023 – The Cape Flats area of Cape Town, South Africa, is home to some of the most marginalized communities in the country, with unemployment and youth delinquency rates high and future prospects often minimal. As is often the case in such contexts, women suffer more than other groups when it comes to accessing vocational training and professional economic development which enables them to generate income for their families and communities. 

This is why, in 2022, WPDI launched a special Women’s Livelihood Program in the area in partnership with the L’Oréal Fund for Women, in the framework of the renewal of our global partnership with the initiative to run throughout 2023. Launching the program was a necessity called upon by local stakeholders, as underprivileged women from the region  had disproportionately suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. There was, in particular, a marked increase in gender-based violence and a drop in household income adversely affecting women of all ages. 

Aimed at fostering women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship, the project was designed to provide local women training in Business and Entrepreneurship, helping them develop their own business projects so they can support themselves, their families and, consequently, the community. After the training period, a Business Plan competition was held at the end of the year, giving successful trainees the opportunity to gain access to life changing WPDI financial support that would help them kick start their business projects and transform their future prospects.

The project was a resounding success, with 750 women graduating and 42 business projects gaining access to WPDI grants and support. We are therefore delighted to have relaunched the project in 2023, having taken stock and identified the areas where we can improve the initiative and provide the best possible support to women who sign up. Interest in the project has been huge in the local area, and some applicants may have to wait until 2024 before there is space.

Earlier this year, WPDI’s Business Skills Officer and Finance Officer met with the 42 Winners from 2022, where we outlined how the paying of grants will be managed, and how the winners can participate in our WPDI & L’Oreal Growth Incubator Training Sessions as per our agreed work plan for 2023.

Recruitment for 2023 intake started at our Community Learning Center in the period from the 16th to the 27th January 2023, with 733 applications received and 516 trainees signing up for the first session, with a second to take place from June to September this year.

Through this initiative, WPDI has become a real agent of change to help vulnerable residents address the biggest challenges facing the City of Cape Town in its most underprivileged areas, where youths, children and women are exposed regularly to the negative effects of gang violence and social instability. WPDI is committed to building resilient communities and thus fostering lasting peace through our Business initiatives in South Africa and around the world.

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