On the second anniversary of becoming a HeForShe Thematic Champion and partnering with UN Women, De Beers Group today announced that more than 700 women micro-entrepreneurs in Namibia and South Africa have successfully completed their training.
The Accelerating Women Owned Micro-Enterprises (AWOME) programme has also recently launched in Botswana, creating even more opportunities for women micro-entrepreneurs to participate.
Part of De Beers Group’s partnership with UN Women, the AWOME programme is tailored to provide women micro-entrepreneurs with the skills required to grow their businesses. Using a ‘train the trainer’ approach, local community members were selected and trained in mentoring, networks, business, and life skills. These community members then in turn train women entrepreneurs, enabling the programme to be sustainably embedded in the long term. Additionally, the training enhances abilities across a range of areas including how to access different markets, increase market share, generate income, create more jobs, and support effective decision-making, communication and negotiation skills.
Targeting regions with high levels of unemployment where job opportunities are limited, the aim of the AWOME programme is to create a sustainable support network by building the capacity of locally-based trainers to understand the specific challenges faced by women micro-entrepreneurs in these regions and build peer support networks.
The programme has so far supported a range of micro-entrepreneurs from mechanics, children’s entertainers, farmers, hairdressers and tailors. Following the programme’s success, the Office of the First Lady of Namibia’s One Economy Foundation is deploying the AWOME programme to improve the benefits the Foundation is delivering.
Commenting on the programme’s success so far, Bruce Cleaver, chief executive officer of De Beers Group, shares: “We are extremely proud and encouraged by of the progress that we have made alongside our partners at UN Women with our AWOME programme, and we are excited to see the progress accelerate over the next 12 months and beyond.
“It is proven that supporting women and girls to advance their skills and grow their influence in the commercial sector maximises the opportunities for societal development, as women reinvest more of their income back into their communities. The changes we see in individuals as a result of the AWOME programme are amazing in their own right, but the changes in the wider society can be truly profound.”
Beyond the success of the AWOME programme in southern Africa, De Beers Group has also seen substantial progress in other aspects of its partnership with UN Women.
In Canada De Beers Group is supporting young women studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), sponsoring STEM science camps for girls from indigenous communities around operations in Canada and providing scholarships for women to attend university and study STEM subjects.
De Beers Group has also partnered with UN Women to sponsor the #GetFree tour, which earlier this month travelled around Canadian universities engaging students on the HeForShe movement and the importance of gender equality.
De Beers Group’s partnership with UN Women has also seen the company set a goal of achieving gender parity in its appointment rate at senior levels. The appointment rate of women into senior roles has increased to 38% from 22% at the start of the partnership. The appointment rate has, however, declined from the level achieved in 2018, highlighting the ongoing challenges of meeting the target and the need for a continued focus on transformation in this area. In order to meet the target, De Beers Group has embedded changes to culture and policy through implementing employee networks, establishing reciprocal mentoring programmes and revising recruitment guidelines.
Further to this, De Beers Group has also committed to being a positive force for gender equality through its marketing activities. A new set of inclusive marketing guidelines was launched across the Group in 2019, focused on avoiding the exacerbation of gender stereotypes by portraying both men and women realistically and positively.
Senior advisor to under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, remarks: “The HeForShe initiative works with global leaders who are committed to leading the path for gender equality and are willing to demonstrate that change is possible on an accelerated timeline. UN Women is proud to partner with De Beers Group as a HeForShe Thematic Champion and the work they are doing in the mining sector – a traditionally male dominated sector – to increase the representation of women at leadership and to embed gender equality into their organisational culture.”