Student Women Economic Empowerment Programme (SWEEP)

The Student Women Economic Empowerment Project (SWEEP) is a project, which serves a special purpose aimed at equipping student women for entrepreneurial activity in the context of gender-based violence and the under-representation of student women in entrepreneurship.

The Student Women Economic Empowerment Programme (SWEEP) is a pioneering programme that serves a special purpose, aimed at equipping student women for entrepreneurial activity in the context of gender-based violence and the under-representation of student women in entrepreneurship.

A hybrid event is planned aimed at student women and businesswomen. The experienced businesswomen would act as mentors/advisers to the younger student women entrepreneurs.
The event will take place on Wednesday, 08 December 20211, the third day of the annual EDHE Lekgotla 2021 and towards the end of the Studentpreneurs Indaba.

The objectives of the event are:

  • to develop an awareness of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activity as a means of economic participation amongst university student women and women in business and the workplace;
  • to equip student women with transferable and practical skills and opportunities; and
  • to provide opportunities for the development of expertise and thought leadership in terms of women in entrepreneurship.

Voices Unite compiled a brief research report from an entrepreneurship survey carried out to assist with a starting point for the SWEEP Programme. The full report includes 300 pages of research findings on the views of the youth in South Africa, covering topics such as education, employment, entrepreneurship, and the future world of work.

A summary of results in a selection of key findings are as follows:

  • When asked about which factors motivated them to start a business, female student entrepreneurs pointed to the financial need to do so as the most influential factor. This was followed by their identification of an opportunity in the market, demonstrating that these female entrepreneurs are clearly proactive in their efforts to address their own financial needs.
  • However, their biggest challenges are the lack of funding and relevant networks – both critical elements to get a new business off the ground. Their lack of experience and their need for more support from those closest to them are other barriers holding them back.
  • On the topics of what attracts them to self-employment and what they perceive as the most unattractive elements of working for an employer, female student entrepreneurs were vocal around financially related. This suggests that female student entrepreneurs often pursue entrepreneurship for financially motivated reasons.
  • Posed with several descriptions of the role of entrepreneurs, most agreed that “entrepreneurs are creative innovators capable of creating, identifying and leveraging new opportunities”. However, one interesting difference was those female entrepreneurs who are not students most often associated entrepreneurship with taking risks – suggesting that these women often need to take risks to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.
  • The Voices Unite results suggest that exposure to entrepreneurship on campuses may have a positive influence on female students’ decision to become an entrepreneur.
  • Very few female student entrepreneurs are familiar with business incubators and hardly any (in the survey) have ever been supported by such incubators. However, almost all-female student entrepreneurs indicated that they would be willing to get assistance from a business incubator. This reiterates their need for support, guidance, networks, and funding.
  1. EDHE will call for applications, inviting student women to send through a wish list (excluding requests for financial assistance and employment).
  2. The first call for applications was sent out by August 9, 2021, to mark Women’s Day.
  3. Application form to be shared on EDHE website from Friday 10 September 2021 – Tuesday, 5 October 2021, and actively promoted at the regional rounds of the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity, the launch of #SEW2021 and on all EDHE social media platforms.
  4. The shortlisting is to be done by the EDHE team, based on predetermined criteria.
  5. Successful applicants will be notified on Friday, 8 October 2021.

Online: this is a virtual event

Contact Details

For more information, please contact: