Following last week’s cabinet reshuffle, agripreneurs across Mzansi are hopeful that new small business development minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’ rural upbringing will inspire her to empower women and youth in agriculture.
Before the reshuffle, Ndabeni-Abrahams was minister of communications and digital technologies department. She replaces Khumbudzo Ntshavheni in the crucial small business portfolio.
Thando Matutu, business manager at Agripreneur South Africa, tells Food For Mzansi that Ndabeni-Abrahams will have her work cut out to significantly contribute to the development of “black value chains”.
“I hope that because she comes from a rural background and a province dependent on agriculture, the Eastern Cape and Transkei, to be exact, she can empower the women and youth within agricultural value chains,” he says.
Matutu calls on Ndabeni-Abrahams to be quick with the further legislation around cannabis production so that women and youth agripreneurs can benefit from the growing green rush.
“Currently, a lot of opportunities have been lost to Lesotho. Billions worth of investment for cannabis [in] the Eastern Cape is idling due to legislation. The cosmetic companies, tertiary institutions are all being held up by the indecisiveness of government on the issue,” Matutu explains.
‘A reliable and worthy partner’
Meanwhile, CEO of the Small Business Institute (SBI), John Dludlu, tells Food For Mzansi that they are wishing Ndabeni-Abrahams well in her new portfolio.
“In us, she has a reliable and willing partner for collaboration towards the success of all SMEs in our country.”
Furthermore, as a leading voice in the SME ecosystem, the SBI looks forward to working with Ndabeni-Abrahams.
“[Working] towards making this important segment of the economy, our rock stars for jobs, growth and development, plays its rightful role in the economy as envisioned in the National Development Plan,” says Dludlu.
He adds that a solid foundation was built towards mainstreaming the SME agenda in South Africa under Ntshavheni’s stewardship. Hopes are high that Ndabeni-Abrahams will take the department to new heights.