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Izindlovukazi: giving women the power

izindlovukaziScamont Engineering is an original equipment manufacturer of positive displacement slurry pumps and pneumatic rock drill machines. The equipment is supplied to mining and industrial clients in South Africa and export markets in Africa, Europe and South America.

When Liesl Roesch decided to quit the corporate world to make a real difference in the lives of poor South African women, she was given a huge boost by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). In 2006 she had established the Izindlovukazi Trust, with 200 disadvantaged women from the broader Gauteng area as beneficiaries of the trust .Her aim was for these women to benefit from a genuinely broad-based black economic deal with Scamont Engineering, a successful mining services company operating locally and internationally. To this end she helped form Izindlovukazi Capital Investments (Pty) Limited as Scamont's BBEE partner.

With full financial backing from the IDC, Izindlovukazi Capital Investments was able to buy a 30% stake in Scamont Engineering in 2007 - Scamont generously conceded this 30% stake instead of simply meeting the 25.1% minimum prescribed in the BBEE scorecard.

The transaction was facilitated by Inderasen Naidoo and Nazeem Moolla, both senior managers in Mining and Minerals Beneficiation unit at the IDC. "The IDC saw this opportunity to support the growth and development of women in the mining industry, which is one of South Africa's largest and most lucrative sectors," said Naidoo. "We hope that real change and empowerment will be filtered through to communities through the involvement of Izindlovukazi. Importantly, the IDC backs genuine and sustainable BBEE deals."

The Izindlovukazi Trust has a 75% stake in Izindlovukazi Capital Investments, so the 200 women who qualified to be beneficiaries of the trust benefit from the Scamont deal. To qualify, the women have to be older than 18 and earn less than R3 000 a month.

The trust is a combination of a distribution and benefit scheme, with units distributed to the women as a monthly annuity income to finance basic needs such as housing, medical aid and education. The idea is that once the IDC funding for the investment in Scamont has been repaid, the distributions to the women will increase substantially - and use it for the benefit of their communities.

Most of the women come from Soweto, Swannyville and Diepsloot, are unmarried with numerous dependents, and receive little more than State grants to make ends meet. The 20% of them who do have jobs earn an average salary of only R1 200 a month.

Izindlovukazi Capital Investments ultimately aims to provide a reliable and trustworthy grassroots channel for businesses that want their corporate social investment to make a difference in the lives of communities. As Izindlovukazi's investment portfolio grows, so more women can join the trust.

Scamont Engineering is an original equipment manufacturer of positive displacement slurry pumps and pneumatic rock drill machines. The equipment is supplied to mining and industrial clients in South Africa and export markets in Africa, Europe and South America. The company declined five other BBEE offers, holding out instead for a truly broad-based arrangement that would make sense to its shareholders and give access to people through new partners. Scamont believed that the deal with Izindlovukazi not only complied with the BBEE codes of good practice, but also assisted in restructuring the company as it made its transition from one generation to the next.

Izindlovukazi means "queen" in isiZulu. In cultural mythology the queen is a creative force that nurtures, slakes thirst and charms things to grow and develop. Roesch chose to invest in potential queens, especially as research proves that empowering women leads to a significant decrease in poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy. "Our queens are raising the next generation of leaders," she said.

As for Roesch, her dreams of marrying her business acumen with her need to have a social impact have come to fruition. Her partner in the trust - Bishop Mshengu Tshabalala - thanked the IDC for furthering the aspirations of Izindlovukazi. "And this is only the beginning."

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