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Women-owned home base enterprises and poverty alleviation: a case of Umlazi B township.

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Dwellings can provide shelter, amenities and an income through spaces used to create wealth, and act as collateral for borrowing. Therefore, housing is an asset that can unlock wealth if the owner utilizes it thus. In South Africa, historically, black women in townships were placed at the back of acquiring homeownership. However, this has changed, and black women in townships are now also homeowners and can explore different avenues of generating income through their housing. For women who were previously disadvantaged, the inclusion into urban policies for housing tenure, such as through the Extend Discount Benefit Scheme (EDBS), have opened the opportunity to potentially realise economic prosperity for themselves through home-based enterprises (HBEs). Women experience myriad barriers when it comes to income generation, beyond those faced by men. The belief that women's work is not part of the monetary mainstream prevails. The study aimed to assess black women-owned HBEs from the beginning of their entrepreneurship, the challenges they have faced and continue to be impacted by, and the extent to which they are achieving income generation and poverty alleviation. It employed a qualitative methodology, where a sample of women who run HBEs was sourced through purposive and snowball sampling, to select the participants to partake in the study. This type of sampling allowed for the researcher's discretion to be used to choose variables or set out the criteria based on the study's aim and objectives. The researcher used semi-structured interviews to conduct interviews with women identified in this way, as well as two other key informants, in order to explore the extent to which HBEs were fulfilling the policy objective of poverty alleviation and wealth creation. A covert obse rvation was also used to gather discernible information required to understand women owned HBEs in the study area better. Data was analysed and interpreted in a thematic manner, with themes predetermined from an understanding of the issues pertinent to women owned HBEs, as well as sub-themes that emerged from the data. The researcher found that women owners of HBEs’ perception was that their poverty has reduced through the operation HBEs, because they are able to feed their families and meet some basic needs. Nevertheless, the absence of business data on the women’s operations and the generalised terms with which they discuss their businesses with no real detailing means it cannot be established whether the businesses have alleviated poverty. Indeed, the size of the businesses and informality of the operations suggest a survivalist character rather than a wealth creating one. To this extent, it was concluded, the policy goal of poverty alleviation and income generation may not have been v achieved, despite these women becoming homeowners. However, the results of the research have also identified gaps and room for improvement for the government’s role in supporting women owned HBEs, which are used as a basis for recommendations.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.