1. The History

1. South Africa is the world’s most unequal society.

(Inequality Trends in South Africa: A multidimensional diagnostic of inequality / Statistics South Africa Published by Statistics South Africa 03-10-2019)

The majority of South Africans are living below the breadline whilst the wealthiest compare favourably with many first world countries.

In addition when gender is taken into account, approximately 52% of the SA population are women, yet the unemployment rate amongst women actively job seeking is higher than that of their male counterparts. In addition the average earning of women is approximately 70% of that of their male colleagues according to the 2017 census. Whilst gender equality is a part of the SA constitutional right of all women, it seems that there is still a long way to go for this equality to filter through to the workplace.
Studies on literacy rates show that men consistently show better literacy rates than women, albeit a small discrepancy. Our conclusion is thus a logical one. On average, women are the most marginalised of all population groups in South Africa. Especially those in the lower income bracket.

Whilst the SA government have many programmes in place to try and eradicate the gender inequality, what is being done is simply not yet enough and from our experience there is a needs gap when additional factors are taken into consideration.

2. South Africa is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a woman.

The following statements from the publication Crime against Women in South Africa Volume V: An in-depth analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey data 2018 Report No. 03-40-05 (June, 2018)
Published on 

“The rate of murder of women is unacceptably high compared to the global average, nearly 4 times as much.”

“The rate of rape has SA dubbed as the rape capital of the world”

Less than 50% of all SA women feel safe performing their daily duties.”

The reality is that a large number of South African women are feeling immobilised and incapacitated as they are victims living in conditions which are similar to most war torn territories. Anecdotal evidence would indicate that if you are a user of public transport you have either been a victim of crime personally or that you have witnessed it personally. Multiple times. If you live in one of the largest areas of the Western Cape known as the Cape Flats you are as accustomed to the sound of gun shots and the death of innocent bystanders in the raging gang wars as you are with the name of your neighbour. These stories continue with impunity and in a living situation as stressed, it is highly unlikely that you can bring your A-game in productivity.

You will notice that we have not yet mentioned domestic abuse and rape, where mothers fear for not only their own lives but for those of their mothers, daughters, sisters and nieces. This plethora of crime and violence in the “rape capital of the world” has taken its toll on the mental health of the women of our country and the lower the socio economic conditions, the higher the toll it seems.

3. South Africa is a nation under siege and it is taking a mental toll.

A number of studies are cited in the below article, all pointing to the need for more attention to be paid to the development of appropriate mental health programmes in a country as besieged as ours.

The American Psychological Association published Trauma and Mental Health in South Africa: Overview by the authors Gail E Wyatt, April Thames, Leickness Simbayi, Dan J Stein, Jonathan Burns and Mashudu Maselesele an extremely interesting read on the findings of numerous studies geared towards mental health needs in South Africa.

Quoting the APA article “The World Health Organization estimates that about 5 million deaths per years are caused by trauma and intentional and unintentional injuries. Almost 9 out of 10 (90%) of these injury-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), one of which is South Africa (Fogarty Global Injury and Trauma Research Training Program, n.d.).”

Once again there is sufficient anecdotal evidence throughout South Africa to indicate that the need for mental health support and trauma healing is dire. There are many NPO’s who are geared toward the support of women who have been victims of violence, many government institutions who support them and yet it never seems to be enough. A Facebook Group Started in August 2019 within a few months grew to a membership of 240 000 women. The name speaks for itself SA Women Fight Back. As a country we need to empower our women to take the chance, to make the change and to be there for them whilst they are doing it.

4. South Africa faces one of the highest SME failure rates in comparison to its developing counterparts.

In a 
thesis presented to The Graduate School of Business University of Cape Town In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Commerce in Development Finance Degree by Sekhametsi Tshepo Leboea (LBXSEK001) February 2017 Supervised by: Tom Ryan, the writer endeavours to understand the underlying factors for the high rate of failure of South African entrepreneurs. )

His conclusions are very much in line with the anecdotal evidence and experience the directors of Up To Me have had either personally or in their capacity as skills development trainers, coaches and mentors for the past 20 years.

Some of the reasons for failure of 5 out of 7 small business include:

  • Entrepreneurial attitudes
  • Socio Cultural Factors
  • Gender Inequality
  • Crime
  • Health
  • Skills Shortage
  • Leadership ability
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Technological Ability
  • Infrastructural Challenges

2. The Present

It is with all the reasoning and research from the above that the directors of Up To Me (252-589 NPO) believe that the minimal approach to the true development and upliftment of marginalised and abused women, giving them the best shot at succeeding in their endeavours, would ideally rest on 4 pillars:

  • Business/Entrepreneurial Training through a formally accredited programme
  • Coaching and Mentoring as part of the ongoing support structure
  • Trauma Healing as part of personal development and accountability
  • Networking Support and Seed Funding where possible

Having access to these avenues available under one roof and with the view to encouraging graduates to pay it forward as mentors, we look forward to each of our recipients taking their chance, making their change!

Up To Me’s  1 year goal includes the use of GBV advocacy and awareness training as tool that will assist us to reach the communities that most need the skills training and upliftment.(2021)

The 2 year goal is to establish ourselves as a community enhancing  NPO working in partnership with other community workers and NPO’s, business owners and government organisations to bring the required services and social support that allows for entrepreneurial learning and sustainable start up growth paths,  to the doorstep of our beneficiaries. (2022)

3. The Future

Up To Me’s 5 year goal is the establishment of a physical space that allows for learning to take place free of charge to the beneficiaries, but also allows for the provision of safe house facilities allowing women the time and space to enjoy physical safety whilst they undertake their qualifications. (2026)