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Women in Logistics: harnessing opportunity to drive sustainable growth

In recent years, several major studies have demonstrated that having more female leaders, board members, managers, and supervisors lead to better business outcomes including higher levels of productivity, safety, and improved financial returns. More specifically, research referenced in the 2009 Women in Supply Chain report demonstrated that improving the proportion of women leads to higher financial returns for logistics companies. This insight was supported by the PWC Transportation & Logistics 2030 report, which stated that companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least by 16% in return on sales, and by 26% in return on invested capital.

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These studies make a compelling business case for gender diversity and inclusion, which in previous decades has been largely ignored and under appreciated among the higher echelons of business leadership.

The studies consistently indicate that women have stronger communication and negotiation skills, bring a different perspective to understanding and solving problems, and are more meticulous in their approach to work. They also tend to score higher on tests of emotional intelligence (EQ). These qualities also make women strong collaborators, and their enhanced ability to communicate and connect with others is vital in a marketplace defined by complexity, disruption, and change.

Based on the growing body of evidence and the strong link to enhanced competitive advantage, a growing number of companies in South Africa and abroad are taking concrete steps to increase the number of women in key roles. This commitment to diversity and inclusion is also being undertaken as a business imperative in the wake of increasing social pressure to promote an inclusive economy, whereby the benefits of economic growth accrue to all who contribute. Increasingly, young entrants in the economy are also more aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Key challenges and opportunities within transport and logistics

The transport and logistics industry is typically described as a ‘non-traditional’ employment pathway for women. This prevailing view, documented in the 2015 South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) report, is supported by a perception that because the majority of employees in this industry are men, most work in this industry are stereotypically ‘masculine.’

Moreover, in the transport and logistics industry, women are predominately employed in support functions and occupy managerial roles in the areas of finance, information technology, communications, human resources, business development, procurement, and quality and risk management. Men, on the other hand, are predominantly employed in the technical, operational and ‘physical’ roles.

Encouragingly, several market developments are creating viable opportunities to include women in ‘non-traditional’ roles in the local and global industry. These include advances in technology such as automatic gearboxes and hydraulic lifting equipment, the retirement of existing workers, increasing levels of education and improved technical training among new entrants in the workforce.

Understanding the barriers to inclusion

As it stands, the number of women in the transport and logistics industry remains low. According to the PWC Transportation & Logistics 2030 global report, the number of women participating in the industry is as low as 20% to 30%. In addition, less than 10% of employees in management positions are women.

Another major hurdle to consider is that within road transportation, there is a dearth of skilled drivers. This shortage is amplified when it comes to female drivers, who are even harder to find due to historical biases and the often unfavourable working conditions – including time away from family, safety issues in long-haul routes, sleeping alone in the truck at night at rest stops with no security, and sometimes having to load and offload goods from trucks.

There are other practical reasons why it remains difficult for women to be employed in the industry beyond road transportation. For one, some training and accommodation facilities are not designed to accommodate women and need upgrades that are gender-sensitive. In addition, the safety of women (and all employees) travelling across long distances cannot be guaranteed in any circumstances, despite the preventative measures that companies put in place.

Furthermore, the existing opportunities for more women to work in the industry are often thwarted by the attitudes and behaviour of most men who maintain unfair gender discrimination practices in the workplace. These practices perpetuate barriers to entry for women.

Sadly, these conditions present an unattractive image of the industry to many women seeking meaningful and rewarding employment. Also, several employment surveys indicate that most women do not know much about logistics in general. However, that is not to say that women lack an interest in transport and logistics. According to the SAFC report, women have the desire to pursue educational qualifications in transport and logistics, and on average, achieve higher education levels than their male counterparts.

Charting industry growth through diversity and workplace culture

The importance of workplace culture cannot be underemphasised – and without a doubt, gender and diversity are key components of any supportive company culture. Indeed, a KPMG Women’s Leadership Study states that today’s most successful enterprises are those that bring diverse perspectives and experiences to each new challenge, and that along with being the right thing to do, diversity and inclusion leads to strategic advantage. This is no different in the transport and logistics industry, whereby male and female employees can, through equal opportunity and a success-oriented mindset, co-design innovative solutions that enhance customer service, increase employee satisfaction and engagement, improve financial returns and enhance profitable growth.

It is, therefore, critical to foster a workplace culture whereby constructive dialogue about the importance and benefits of diversity and inclusion can take place between men and women. In our view, changes in culture require strong leadership and a clearly articulated strategy that is supported by commitment and demonstrable action. Simply employing more women in the industry is not enough – cultural and structural barriers must be removed.

A strategic and hands-on approach

We have taken a clear and strategic approach to incorporate Diversity and Inclusion as among our Vision 2020 strategic focus areas, with a goal to “maintain and enhance our competitiveness, credibility, and legitimacy in the eyes of all stakeholders by leading in diversity and inclusion across all of our businesses.” This is closely linked to the Group’s ‘People’ strategic focus area “to attract, develop and retain the people and skills required to deliver on our strategies and create shared value.”

In line with these commitments, the group has implemented several initiatives to attract, train, mentor and coach – as well as employ – women in transport and logistics. For example, we have established a professional driver learnership for 40 women within Barloworld Transport, a business unit of Barloworld Logistics. The programme supports 45 women who are currently completing the National Certificate in Professional Driving. The participants come from all walks of life – most of them were unemployed, many had never driven a vehicle before.

To date, 18 participants now have a Code 14 license, while others are able to successfully maneuver and reverse a truck around the yard, with some already starting on-road training. Notably, Barloworld Transport has also been successful in recruiting and employing female crane operators.

As Barloworld Logistics continues with these pioneering initiatives, the company is aware that as an employer seeking to gradually transform the industry, it is critical to foster a fair and equitable workplace that effectively addresses male and female attitudes and needs.

Key insights and the road ahead

Credible global research on diversity and inclusion, and particularly gender equality, has made a significant contribution to business by demonstrating that the meaningful inclusion of women at all occupational levels leads to better business outcomes. As previously noted, this includes higher levels of productivity and safety, better customer service, greater employee satisfaction and engagement, higher financial returns and more profitable growth.

These findings certainly carry over to the transport and logistics industry and thus present a unique opportunity for the industry to embrace this potential strategic advantage in the local market. Also, developments in technology, shifting demographic patterns and customer requirements play an important role, whereby the industry can actively leverage emerging opportunities to attract and employ women. Industries such as mining, engineering and construction have also recognised the importance and value of diversity and inclusion and are making promising progress in this regard.

To be clear, paving the road ahead for women in transport and logistics comes loaded with challenges and opportunities. Indeed, transforming the image of the industry, gender stereotypes and unfair workplace practices is not an easy task. However, with strong leadership commitment and action, it is possible to gradually remove barriers that prevent the broader participation of women in the industry. Our vision and strategic focus areas, as well as Barloworld Transport’s professional driver learnership for women, are tangible examples of commitment – at the highest levels – to promoting gender equity in the industry.

Looking forward, the inclusion of women in the transport and logistics industry is not only a business imperative but is increasingly part of a global push to promote inclusive and sustainable economic development.
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Paving road for women in transport is challenging

In recent years, major studies have shown that having more female leaders, board members, managers and supervisors leads to better business outcomes including higher levels of productivity, safety and improved financial returns.

Find sales opportunities in your market

More specifically, research referenced in the 2009 Women in Supply Chain report demonstrated that improving the proportion of women leads to higher financial returns for logistics companies. This insight was supported by the PwC Transportation & Logistics 2030 report, which stated that companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least by 16 percent in return on sales, and by 26 percent in return on invested capital. These studies make a compelling business case for gender diversity and inclusion, which in previous decades has been largely ignored and under appreciated among the higher echelons of leadership.

The studies consistently indicate that women have stronger communication and negotiation skills, bring a different perspective to understanding and solving problems, and are more meticulous in their approach to work. They also tend to score higher on tests of emotional intelligence. These qualities also make women strong collaborators, and their enhanced ability to communicate and connect with others is vital in a marketplace defined by complexity, disruption and change.

Based on the growing body of evidence and the strong link to enhanced competitive advantage, a growing number of companies in South Africa and abroad are taking concrete steps to increase the number of women in key roles. This commitment to diversity and inclusion is also being undertaken as a business imperative in the wake of increasing pressure to promote an inclusive economy, whereby the benefits of economic growth accrue to all who contribute. Increasingly, young entrants in the economy are also more aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Key challenge

The transport and logistics industry is typically described as a “non-traditional” employment pathway for women. This prevailing view, documented in the 2015 South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) report, is supported by a perception that because the majority of employees in this industry are men, most work in this industry is stereotypically “masculine”.

Moreover, in the transport and logistics industry, women are predominately employed in support functions and occupy managerial roles in the areas of finance, information technology, communications, human resources, business development, procurement, and quality and risk management. Men, on the other hand, are predominantly employed in the technical, operational and “physical” roles.

Encouragingly, several market developments are creating viable opportunities to include women in “non-traditional” roles in the industry. These include advances in technology such as automatic gearboxes and hydraulic lifting equipment, the retirement of existing workers, increasing levels of education and improved technical training among new entrants.

As it stands, the number of women in the transport and logistics industry remains low. According to the PwC Transportation & Logistics 2030 report, the number of women participating in the industry is as low as 20 percent to 30 percent. In addition, less than 10 percent of employees in management positions are women.

Another major hurdle to consider is that within road transportation, there is a dearth of skilled drivers. This shortage is amplified when it comes to female drivers, who are even harder to find due to historical biases and the often-unfavourable working conditions – including time away from family, safety issues in long-haul routes, sleeping alone in the truck at night at rest stops with no security, and sometimes having to load and offload cargo.

There are other reasons why it remains difficult for women to be employed in the industry beyond road transportation. For one, some training and accommodation facilities are not designed to accommodate women and need gender-sensitive upgrades. In addition, the safety of women (and all employees) travelling across long distances cannot be guaranteed in any circumstances, despite preventative measures that companies put in place.

Furthermore, the existing opportunities for more women to work in the industry are often thwarted by the attitudes and behaviours of most men who maintain unfair gender discrimination practices in the workplace. These practices perpetuate barriers to entry for women.

Sadly, these conditions present an unattractive image of the industry to many women seeking meaningful and rewarding employment. Also, several employment surveys indicate that most women do not know much about logistics in general. However, that is not to say that women lack an interest in transport and logistics.

According to the SAFC report, women have the desire to pursue educational qualifications in transport and logistics, and on average, achieve higher education levels than their male counterparts.

The importance of workplace culture cannot be under-emphasised – and without doubt, gender and diversity are key components of any supportive company culture. Indeed, a KPMG Women’s Leadership Study states that today’s most successful enterprises are those that bring diverse perspectives and experiences to each new challenge, and that along with being the right thing to do, diversity and inclusion lead to strategic advantage.

This is no different in the transport and logistics industry, whereby male and female employees can, through equal opportunity and a success-oriented mindset, co-design innovative solutions that enhance customer service, increase employee satisfaction and engagement, improve financial returns and enhance profitable growth.

It is, therefore, critical to foster a workplace culture whereby constructive dialogue about the importance and benefits of diversity and inclusion can take place between men and women. Changes in culture require strong leadership and a clearly articulated strategy that is supported by commitment and demonstrable action. Simply employing more women in the industry is not enough – cultural and structural barriers must be removed.

We have taken a clear and strategic approach to incorporate diversity and inclusion as among our Vision 2020 strategic focus areas, with a goal to maintain and enhance our competitiveness, credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of all stakeholders by leading in diversity and inclusion across all of our businesses. This is closely linked to the group’s people strategic focus area to attract, develop and retain the people and skills required to deliver on our strategies and create shared value.

Driver learnership

In line with these commitments, the group has implemented several initiatives to attract, train, mentor and coach – as well as employ – women in transport and logistics. For example, we have established a professional driver learnership for 40 women within Barloworld Transport, a business unit of Barloworld Logistics.

The programme supports 45 women who are completing the National Certificate in Professional Driving. The participants come from all walks of life – most of them were unemployed, many had never driven a vehicle before.

To date, 18 participants now have a Code 14 licence, while others are able to successfully manoeuvre and reverse a truck around the yard, with some already starting on-road training.

Notably, Barloworld Transport has also been successful in recruiting and employing female crane operators.

As Barloworld Logistics continues with these pioneering initiatives, the company is aware that as an employer seeking to gradually transform the industry, it is critical to foster a fair and equitable workplace that effectively addresses male and female attitudes and needs.

Credible global research on diversity and inclusion, and particularly gender equality, has made a significant contribution to business by demonstrating that the meaningful inclusion of women at all occupational levels leads to better business outcomes. As previously noted, this includes higher levels of productivity and safety, better customer service, greater employee satisfaction and engagement, higher financial returns and more profitable growth.

These findings certainly carry over to the transport and logistics industry, and thus present a unique opportunity for the industry to embrace this potential strategic advantage in the local market. Also, developments in technology, shifting demographic patterns and customer requirements play an important role, whereby the industry can actively leverage emerging opportunities to attract and employ women.

Industries such as mining, engineering and construction have also recognised the importance and value of diversity and inclusion and are making promising progress in this regard.

To be clear, paving the road ahead for women in transport and logistics comes loaded with challenges and opportunities. Indeed, transforming the image of the industry, gender stereotypes and unfair workplace practices is not an easy task. However, with strong leadership commitment and action, it is possible to gradually remove barriers that prevent the broader participation of women in the industry.

Our vision and strategic focus areas, as well as Barloworld Transport’s professional driver learnership for women, are tangible examples of commitment – at the highest levels – to promoting gender equity in the industry.

Looking forward, the inclusion of women in the transport and logistics industry is not only a business imperative, but is increasingly part of a global push to promote inclusive and sustainable economic development.
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African women are breaking their backs to get water for their families.

Four years after the United Nations announced that it cut the number of people without access to cleaner water by half, getting to that water is still a major hardship for much of sub-Saharan Africa, a new analysis shows.

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More than two-thirds of the region’s population reported that they leave home to collect water and haul it as far as two football fields, and that backbreaking work falls mostly on women and children in 24 countries carrying buckets that weigh as much as 40 pounds each. The result, says the analysis released Wednesday and published in the journal PLOS One, is “fatigue, musculoskeletal damage and early degenerative bone and soft tissue damage” on water bearers who are often frail to begin with.

Among households that spent 30 minutes to collect water from a well or some other protected source, 13.5 million were women and 3.5 million were children in nations such as Niger, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Burundi, South Africa, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Girls vastly outnumbered boys who carry out the chore, 62 percent to 38 percent, the analysis said. Adult women tasked with water collection ranged from about 45 percent in Liberia to 90 percent in the Ivory Coast.

Jay Graham, an assistant professor at George Washington University in Washington, said he undertook the analysis with the help of two graduate students because the costs of constantly collecting water have been overlooked, with few scientific studies or reports that focus on the topic. As the world works toward improving water sources through the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, the labor of retrieving it should be considered, he said.

The authors suggested that the time and toll of water collection by children and women should be taken into consideration when measuring the progress of making water available, as well as the benefits of sanitation and hygiene.

“Water transport can take considerable time and energy, placing high demands on the metabolism, and result in pressure on the skeletal system leading to early arthritis,” the analysis said. “The most commonly reported adverse effect among the 39 water transporters in South Africa was spinal pain, at 69 percent. People who carry water may be more prone to injury in rural areas due to higher rates of poverty, chronic malnutrition and poor health.”

On top of that, people worn down by the weight of collection are far less likely to use water for common tasks such as hand washing. “It’s shown to increase infectious diseases such as diarrhea,” Graham said. Researchers think hauling water by hand and foot is so labor intensive that “people collect less, so there’s no hygiene in the home. You don’t want to use it up on hand washing.

“What I’m trying to do is highlight that we’ve been measuring one aspect, where the water comes from,” said Graham. “We’re totally missing this other metric — how long people are spending collecting water and the gender inequality associated with water collection.” Public health officials in Africa and across the world have rightly zeroed in on quality, he said, “but we don’t focus on things like … the health impacts that are indirect — faster pregnancy for girls who miss school to do the work and a shorter life span. This is going to become more exacerbated with climate change as people are expected to walk farther.”

Even in a more developed country like South Africa, more than half of water bearers were adult women — 56 percent. Female children followed them at 31 percent, male children at 31 percent, and finally adult males at 3 percent.

The analysis references reports that said reduced water collection carried benefits for women in the Namaqualand of South Africa, providing nearly an hour of extra rest per day and time spent with children. Other observational reports in the country showed the impacts on children forced to collect water — fatigue, early dismissal from school and difficulty focusing on studies while in class.

The authors said their analysis relied on data from two major international surveys, “the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys conducted by governments in collaboration with UNICEF, and the Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the ICF International and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.” This analysis included the Sub-Saharan African countries that had conducted DHS or MICS household surveys between 2005 and 2012,” it said.

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World Bank study highlights artisinal mining challenges in Central Africa

Women have been known to break boundaries which have persisted to box them into certain classifications of occupations, mining has also been one of those jobs.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), like many other African countries is rich with mining minerals including the ASM sector, however, Congolese women in Kivu, east of DRC, are deprived of a share in this wealth, says the World Bank.

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The group’s report, ‘Resources and resourcefulness. Gender, conflict, and artisanal mining communities in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’ compiled between 2012 and 2014, highlights the issues associated with the Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector in the Central African country.

According to the analysis, due to the mid-1990’s post wars, the ASM sector became the primary source of economy for inhabitants of the Kivu region, but the research found that gender discrimination, including sexual abuse is common in the region’s mining towns.

The majority of people directly involved in the extraction of minerals at mining sites were described as extremely poor and vulnerable with women subjected to sexual and economic predation.

Economic footprint – ASM sector

Two of the three intended mine sites were visited in Kalehe and Walungu, focus group discussions and key informant interviews including an analysis of the Congolese legal framework revealed the realities surrounding the ASM sector in the Kivu region.  While mining jobs are supposed to be open to everyone, corruption is reported to be high in this sector. Acquiring a job for many women meant transactional sex was often their only means to gain an economic foothold in mining industry.

The analysis found that among other pressing issues such as corruption, there was also a lack of education on rights and limited availability of social forms of organisation for women and others. A significant number of both men and women were found to be not aware that there was a mining code in DRC with provisions to protect their right to work.

In light of this the following are the highlights of the report’s suggestions to better DRC’s ASM sector:

  • Assist women access jobs other than sex work
  • Address corruption and fraud in the mining sector resulting from increasing efforts at government regulation of this industry
  • Provide technical assistance in the modernisation of ASM
  • Engage in education around mining code and rights of those in mining towns
  • Strengthen the capacity of local associations to advocate for their own rights

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South Africa aims for more women in water sector

 

The conversation needed to be changed, according to Nomvula Mokonyane. The water and sanitation minister spoke at a conference in Pretoria on Monday on getting women, who were breadwinners of households, to be providers in national sectors.”How do we inform, incentivise and invest in women-owned businesses and women leaders in water and sanitation,” she asked delegates at the National Women in Water Consultative Conference, where she encouraged them to change the conversation.”How do we change the debate from one of victimisation to one of transformational leadership… We are here to create wealth and prosperity.”Mokonyane spoke of women who walked for more than an hour to fetch water for their households. “An old lady said she was raped along the way. But that will not stop her from fetching water,” she said.More than 200 million hours were spent each day around the world on fetching water. Businesspeople, Mokonyane urged, should not forget people like the women fetching water for their families.”Water is perceived to be a women’s business but the business of water lacks women.” She was planning to shape the Department of Water and Sanitation. “Women should not only fetch water for their households, but they must also be suppliers of pipes and manage reservoirs.”Mokonyane wanted women to be part of the planning, designing and implementation processes of things such as building dams or toilets.

New programme

For this reason, her department had launched the three-year national Women in Water Programme. “The programme comprises a mentorship programme, a women in water business incubator and a women in water forum. The scope of the programme covers all women-owned businesses that are competent and excellent in the provision of services to the department.”It would also focus on women in science and engineering, those in innovation, those in construction, and women in local community initiatives. Other businesses owned by women may be considered based on merit.Mokonyane said the first incubators would be made known in January 2016.

Other speakers

Female speakers addressed the conference commission sessions, during which the audience could engage with the speakers and give their input on topics like science and engineering, innovation, construction and local community initiatives.In the construction commission, Dr Thandi Ndlovu, chief executive officer of Motheo Construction Group, said the money the government pumped into infrastructure had been reduced. Despite this, she felt the concern of the country was what would happen to women.The government policy was that at least 30% of its business should go to women-headed companies. Ndlovu said it was important to have a niche for yourself. “Look for the low-hanging fruit. Dams will be built by the grade 9 contractors. Don’t expect to build a dam if it’s not your niche.”She also said the value of partnership was very important in making your business succeed.Khungeka Njobe, the chairperson of South Africa’s Technology Innovation Centre and Aveng Water, said before she had started a business, she asked herself how she could do things differently from what was on the market.She agreed that forming partnerships in business was vital. “Before partnerships, it starts with relationships. Partnerships must be complementary, not just about who you know. We got to know our strengths and skills [before entering a partnership].”She also said that investing should not be postponed. “We’ll keep on saying we do not have the skills. To understand the situation better, investment in things like research should be done.”

Source: southafrica


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Women salvage local economies and social wellbeing through recycling

South Africa annually celebrates Women’s Month in August as a reminder of the great women who helped mould South Africa and the trailblazing women who continue to lead the country forward.

This Women’s Month Collect-a-Can pays homage to the women of our nation who are investing in social good in their communities and making a sustainable contribution to our local economy and environment through waste management and recycling.

Collect-a-Can, southern African can recovery and recycling organisation, actively works within various communities, encouraging citizens from all walks of life to safeguard our environment, while uplifting their families and communities through recycling entrepreneurship initiatives and informal can recycling.

“It is up to us to make a difference,” says Nomkhosi Mashile, a female business owner of New Beginnings Home Loans, who started a second business close to her heart, Recycling Moms.

Recycling Moms’ mandate is to empower and create jobs for unemployed mothers who are waste-pickers trying to feed and provide for their families with the money generated out of selling recyclable material.

“Recycling does not only create jobs, boost the South African economy and save energy, but it keeps the environment clean and green for current and future generations,” Mashile continues.

The company was founded in September 2014 in Cowies Hill, Pinetown with big dreams to expand and start their own processing plant to process the recyclable materials; making an even bigger contribution to protecting the environment.

“We as women have the power to make a difference in communities,” says Zimasa Velaphi, public relations and marketing manager of Collect-a-Can. “It is wonderful to see so many women who understand that waste has value and that it creates an opportunity for them to start their own ventures or create an income for themselves and their families.”

Female informal can collector, Lizzie Sicwebu, from Gugulethu in the Cape Flats, is one of many women in South Africa who makes use of Collect-a-Can’s Cash for Cans initiative. Last year, after reading a newspaper article about Collect-a-Can, Sicwebu started collecting cans and banking on the Cash for Cans initiative as a substitute for a formal income to earn a living and provide for her family.

Women’s capacity to bring about economic change for themselves is increasingly viewed as the most important contributing factor to achieving equality between women and men. However, women are known to add even more value by not only building profitable business, but also protecting the environment and empowering their local communities.

With this drive, PWK Waste Management and Recycling was born in 2014 when managing director, Susan Kone conducted research on how to dispose of fluorescent globes. Her curiosity led to a discovery that there are many illegal landfill sites; inspiring Kone to start her own recycling venture in Vuwani, Limpopo, dedicated to recycling all recyclable waste.

PWK has only been operating for a few months, but has achieved great success already. This women-owned and managed recycling venture provides employment for seven permanent employees and three casual staff members.

“We intend to partner with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Makhado Municipality to educate the local community about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling,” says Kone.

Kone has high aspirational goals for PWK Waste Management and Recycling. Her one year plan is to see their venture as one of the top five waste management companies in the Vhembe District, specifically managed by women. She also strives to grow her team to ten fulltime employees in the next two years.

These women aim to encourage their communities to start recycling and leave behind a legacy of informed communities dedicated to a clean and green environment.

Source: sagoodnews


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