The automotive repair industry in South Africa has long been a male-dominated field, with limited data on the representation of female artisans. This disparity in gender representation becomes even more concerning given the country’s high youth unemployment rate, particularly in the Eastern Cape, where it surpasses the national average. In response to this challenge, a groundbreaking partnership between Wise Cracks, a local windscreen repair company, and Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator was initiated. Their aim was to empower young women from townships in the Eastern Cape through entrepreneurship and to expand the market for windscreen repair, promoting both cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability.
The project equipped young women with portable windscreen repair kits and provided them with technical and soft skills training to establish their own windscreen repair businesses. A stringent selection process was implemented to ensure the candidates possessed the necessary qualities, including sales experience, resilience, and the ability to work with their hands. Eleven young women aged 18 to 29 were chosen for a week-long training course, after which they were entrusted with the repair kits. Now, 18 months later, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Ten of the trainees have mastered the technical aspects of the trade and continue to actively use their skills, generating income and acquiring valuable entrepreneurship skills in marketing, finance, and administration.
One of the remarkable success stories from this initiative is Lisakhanya Matiso, a 22-year-old student from King William’s Town. Lisakhanya not only found financial stability through the program but also gained the confidence and skills to venture into entrepreneurship. Despite facing challenges related to personal safety and access to formal sites for work, these young women have demonstrated their capabilities and resilience.
The project has shed light on the need for ongoing support in areas such as client acquisition and business management, as simply providing tools and technical skills is insufficient for guaranteed success. The most successful candidates were those with access to transportation and those who collaborated with others to support their businesses over larger geographic areas.
Harambee and Wise Cracks plan to further test and expand this model with more candidates, seeking funding to take the micro-entrepreneurs to the next level. Naamsa, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, is supporting the project by assisting with access to customers for the Wise Cracks team. Collaboration with insurance firms, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and vehicle dealerships is on the horizon to create better market access.
This partnership between Wise Cracks and Harambee offers a glimpse of the potential of South Africa’s young women, demonstrating their ability to overcome societal barriers and contribute to lasting change in their communities. By providing continuous support and mentorship, these candidates can grow their businesses and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. This initiative not only paves the way for more inclusive opportunities in the automotive repair industry but also fosters entrepreneurship among young black women at a micro-enterprise level.
Source: Automotive Business Review : https://www.abrbuzz.co.za/index.php/buzz/22533-cracking-it-in-south-africas-male-dominated-automotive-repair-industry?highlight=WyJoYXJhbWJlZSJd