UFH empowers women in tourism

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The University of Fort Hare has partnered with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) and Women in Tourism Eastern Cape (WITEC) to empower and upskill women in the tourism industry.  The first training session got underway on Wednesday, 6 November, at the 1st Class Manor B&B in East London.

Altogether, 10 mentors and mentees from WITEC attended the first workshop.

The partnership was conceived when two women, Ms Wendy Terblanche - Senior Accounting Lecturer and Deputy Head of the Nkuhlu Department of Accounting, and Ms Nomfundo Zondwa - Manager at ECPTA Regional Tourism Development, struck up a conversation during a business trip in 2018.

“We were sitting next to each other on a flight and we started chatting. I told her [Zondwa] UFH is always looking to collaborate with local communities. The ECPTA offices are so close to our East London offices and I suggest that we should work together sometime. I gave her my card,” said Terblanche.

A year later, Ms Zondwa made use of Ms Terblanche’s business card and the partnership was forged and sealed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Through this partnership, lecturers from the university’s Accounting and Business Management Departments will train and share knowledge with women who own or co-own small businesses such as Bed & Breakfast and Arts and Crafts establishments to help them sustain their businesses and ultimately survive the tough economy. Training will be provided to business women in and around East London who are affiliated to the WITEC mentorship programme.

 This collaboration could not have come at a better time as recent unemployment data from Statistics SA revealed that female unemployment figures continue to rise, highlighting the need and opportunity for women to pursue entrepreneurship as a career.

“The main purpose of the MOU is to set modalities for conducting enterprise support in the tourism industry. This will be achieved through skills development of the WITEC mentorship group, where UFH will share knowledge and upskill tourism mentees and mentors on business operations as required in areas of mutual interest”, explained Ms Terblanche.

“The university will facilitate five workshops on business related topics such as financial management, business management, human resources, service excellence and event management”, she said.

Zondwa is confident that the University of Fort Hare’s contribution will boost local tourism businesses.

Ms Pelisa Kunju, Mentorship Head at WITEC, said business women in the tourism sector will benefit tremendously from this collaboration. “Equipped with the knowledge and skills shared through this partnership, these women will be able to make better informed decisions that will expand their businesses and keep them afloat,” said Kunju.

The partnership will run over a course of three months, from November till January 2020, with a high possibility of renewal.