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FOREWORD BY THE CHAIRPERSON
The establishment of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance (BRICS WBA) in 2020, initially proposed by Russia, marked a significant milestone in advancing women’s development across BRICS countries. The BRICS WBA aims to empower women as key drivers of economic growth, unlock their business potential, and promote their economic empowerment throughout the BRICS nations.
As an independent structure within the BRICS cooperation framework, the BRICS WBA serves as a crucial platform for women to actively participate in BRICS economic cooperation.
Under Russia’s presidency in 2020, the Alliance was founded, providing a foundation for institutionalization and facilitating cooperation, knowledge sharing, trade, and investment. During India’s presidency in 2021, five joint working groups were formed to foster effective discussions on women’s development, propose constructive suggestions, and establish a comprehensive cooperation framework.
China’s presidency in 2022 focused on cross-border e-commerce, digital infrastructure, and the notable growth of the BRICS Women Innovation Contest.
Established under the Ministry of Small Business Development in October 2020, the South African Chapter of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance has been entrusted with the mandate to facilitate, promote, and strengthen cooperation, trade, and investment ties among women-owned business communities across the five BRICS countries. With a focus on complementing and maximizing existing bilateral and multilateral relations between BRICS member states for economic growth, the BWBA-SA operates through 17 Working Groups led by accomplished women entrepreneurs who are driving transformative change in their respective sectors. These Working Groups, including 7 joint working groups with other BRICS member states, play a vital role in realizing the Alliance’s vision and achieving SDG 5.
As a newly formed BRICS structure focused on trade cooperation among BRICS nations, BRICS WBA-SA aims to advance an African-led economic growth agenda in collaboration with BRICS member states. Our objective is to unlock mutually beneficial opportunities for increased trade, investment, technology transfer, and capacity building partnerships. Women entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are at the heart of this agenda, as they play a crucial role in economic growth and post-COVID recovery.
While gender equality has long been a fundamental goal, we recognize that true empowerment extends beyond mere equality. It requires addressing deep-rooted social, economic, and cultural imbalances that hinder women’s progress and potential.
The South African Chapter of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance embarked on its journey in 2020 with limited resources and faced formidable challenges. Despite the hurdles encountered from 2020 to March 2023, our determination remained unyielding. The significant progress made thus far, coupled with the hope and belief we see in the eyes of countless women, continually invigorates our collective drive and commitment.
Our resolute conviction and relentless endeavours to foster a balanced and inclusive economic landscape within BRICS have garnered tremendous support, both domestically and internationally, for the Alliance’s vision, strategy, and work plan. Our unwavering focus lies in generating concrete economic outcomes that positively transform the lives and livelihoods of women in Africa and BRICS countries.
With unwavering dedication, boundless enthusiasm, and a collaborative approach that adds value to our partnerships and engages stakeholders, we are committed to tirelessly working towards breaking down obstacles to market access, facilitating the availability of productive resources, fostering mentorship and capacity-building programs, promoting access to capital, and advocating for policies that advance gender equity.
We, the Women of BRICS, are unwavering in our dedication to achieving economic prosperity for women entrepreneurs and the SMME sector. We have already committed our personal resources and made significant sacrifices, inspired by the legacy of Tata Mandela. In pursuit of this ideal state, I am also prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
By fostering gender equity, we can collectively shape a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.
Ms. Lebogang Zulu
BRICS Women’s Business Alliance (South Africa)