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Ipelegeng Thusong Service Centre

Co-operatives to better lives of poor communities

The Seaoane Women’s Co-operatives (Itshe le Mzansi)

Women are not always aware of national, provincial and local government programmes put in place to empower them. Community Development Workers (CDWs) at the Ipelegeng Thusong Service Centre played a crucial role in enhancing the isolated attempts at daily survival of women in Seaone. They are now active business partners in a co-operative, pooling their resources. Access to information on government programmes is no longer locked in government buildings but brought to the people who need it, assisting in breaking the shackles of poverty.

Starting 2007 with a registered and operational co-operative, the women of Seaone realised their new year’s resolutions sooner than most. The Seaone Women’s Co-operative has an elected committee and now looks forward to training in business management and marketing through the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller.

In late 2005, three CDWs conducted a door-to-door exercise and identified unemployed women skilled in sewing, beadwork, baking, catering and the design of traditional wear. They came from Senaoane, Phiri, Mapetla and Protea Glen, and were given a working space at the Senaoane swimming pool by the Johannesburg Sports Department. Sewing machines have been provided for them, altthough these can only be delivered once they find a larger and secure place.

Senior communication officer (SCO) Mothibedi Panyane, and CDWs organised a mass economic opportunities workshop at which the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller explained the various ways they could start a business. They gained a better understanding of the registration process and of running a co-operative at a subsequent workshop held by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The experience of the Seaoane women highlights the importance of different government departments working together in bettering the lives of poor communities. The fact that they are accessing economic opportunities is a clear indication that government is not paying lip service to reducing unemployment and poverty.

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