Entrepreneurship is considered one of the key drivers of economic development. It is widely recognized that female entrepreneurs in formal and informal sectors play crucial roles in building and sustaining economic growth and development. In South Africa, however, women’s participation in entrepreneurial activities remains on the periphery of formal government policy. This is despite formal pronouncements and recognition that women’s integration and role in the economy is vital for both the economic and socio-political development of the country. Indeed, the South African government has introduced various policies and programmes in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 5 – achieve gender equality, social inclusion and human rights. Such programmes are aimed at generally empowering women. This paper examines various government programmes aimed at enhancing women’s entrepreneurship in KwaZulu-Natal. It attempts to go beyond the rhetoric to assess the current position of women and to determine the extent to which policy prescriptions and initiatives have empowered women entrepreneurs in KwaZulu-Natal. The data is based on a wide range of existing literature and primary sources.

Author Biography

Obianuju (Uju) E. Okeke-Uzodike is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology (DUT), Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She holds an MBA degree from ESUT Business School, Lagos, Nigeria; and a PhD in Management from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Dr. Uju is an emerging researcher with special interest in the area of Management Sciences. Her research activities are two-pronged: effective mobilization of human resources, and human capacity building (most especially in the areas of women empowerment).

Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike is a political scientist with early educational training in Nigeria and further studies at Wake Forest University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA. His PhD is in the field of political science with subfields in international relations, international political economy, United States foreign policy, conflict transformation and peace studies in comparative politics. Drawing from this training, his training, his research activities straddle the linked and mutually reinforcing areas of governance, conflict and development. With over 15 years of managerial experience of 28 years of academic experience Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike has served as the Dean and Head of the School of Social Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa. Prof. Okeke-Uzodike has written over a hundred and fifty publications and his publications focus on issue-areas that have particular resonance and relevance for justice, peace, human security and development in Africa such as national foreign policies, regional integration, democratization and economic development, the roles and social rights of women, politics of religion and conflict transformation. He serves as editor of two journals: Afrikka: Journal of Politics, Economics and Society; and Ubuntu: Journal of Conflict Transformation.

Dr. Catherine Ndinda is a Chief Research Specialist in Economic Performance and Development unit of the Human Science Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa. She is an affiliate of Development Studies, University of South Africa (UNISA). She holds PhD in Social Science and MSc in Urban and Regional Planning (Development) both from Natal University. She has been a principal investigator in national and provincial studies on monitoring and evaluation in South Africa. In 2014 she was the principal investigator in the national study Baseline assessment for the future impact evaluation of informal settlements targeted for upgrading, which was also presented the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador. She has collaborated in multi-country studies covering at least six African countries (Kenya, Malawi, Cameroon, Togo, Nigeria and South Africa). Her research focus is on policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation (design assessment, baseline assessments and impact evaluations), human settlements, gender studies. Her current research focus is on post-apartheid housing policy and practice. She is currently the principal investigator in a synthesis evaluation: An evaluation of interventions by the Department of Human Settlements in facilitating access to the city for poor households. She has published widely in the field of gender studies.