South Africa (SA) is to earmark 40% of public procurement projects for women-owned businesses, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.
In a speech marking SA’s national women’s day, Ramaphosa outlined plans to “expand the access of women to economic opportunity”.
He said: “We will do this, among other things, by setting aside 40% of public procurement for women-owned businesses.
“We now expect national departments to monitor and report on how many women have participated in each public procurement process.
He added departments “will have to develop clear plans on how they will broaden women's participation over the next 12 months”.
Ramaphosa added that as chair of the African Union (AU), the country would also work on guidelines to help member states develop similar policies, calling on others to put policies in place to increase women's ownership of land to 30%.
In February, the president told an AU summit that women-owned firms receive only 1% of African public spend.
In his speech to the summit, Ramaphosa vowed to introduce legislation to help firms owned by women take a bigger share of the state contracting pie in Africa’s largest economy.
Ramaphosa pledged in his women’s day address to speed up the process of ensuring women have access to land and other resources.
“We will ensure that our own land reform process favours all historically disadvantaged people - including women - in getting land and the means to farm it,” he said.
The South African leader also pledged to support women who operate small or micro businesses even in the informal sector.
One obstacle he identified was lack of access to financial services and digital identification limits.
“Under Generation Equality, we will be supporting AU member states in their drive to adopt digital IDs.
“We will engage the financial sector to strengthen efforts to make financial services accessible and affordable for women in South Africa.”
South Africa is also providing debt relief to women-owned SMEs through development finance institutions.
It said the Industrial Development Corporation has allocated a large part of its funding towards youth and women-empowered businesses and has prioritised black-owned and women-owned businesses in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Ramaphosa hailed success stories of women either starting businesses to produce PPE or modifying existing business operations.