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A partnership agreement between the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA) and The Innovation Hub to capacitate SMMEs with essential business training, will benefit two enterprising female engineers in the renewable energy (RE) space.

Hleziphi Siyothula-Mtshizana, the founder and chief executive officer of In Pursuit Renewable Energy, a services company offering cost-effective alternative energy solutions, believes that her organisation can play a positive role in addressing the country’s energy crisis, and make an important contribution to developing skills in the RE environment. The company currently employs four people, with the number is expected to grow substantially.

Long time university friend is the founder and managing director of the non-profit organisation, KgabisoPalesa Cares (KP Cares), Kgabiso Palesa Sephai who is passionate about the provision of training to youth and communities in renewable energy, as well as skills development in energy efficiency, solar PV systems and battery storage. To date, KP Cares has trained 100 young people and 10 SMMEs, with 40 of the young people currently placed on internships with various host companies. KP Cares currently employs 14 people.

“Our partnership with the Innovation Hub, which ultimately benefits SMMEs within the sectors we serve, responds directly to several strategic focus areas for the EWSETA in that it not only capacitates SMMEs operating within the energy and water sector, but also seeks to develop much-needed sector knowledge and skills, particularly in the RE sector,” comments Mpho Mookapele, CEO for the EWSETA.

“In addition, the support being provided to these specific beneficiaries addresses the strategic imperative of increased gender representation in the energy space that for too long has been dominated by males,” adds Mookapele.

Siyothula-Mtshizana and Sephai, have both made their own mark on the energy sector. They are both qualified electrical engineers and understand the challenges women face in this environment. It is for this reason that they place extensive emphasis on ensuring that women are given access to the sector.

Achieving impact with the projects and programmes it funds is an important success factor for the EWSETA, and by supporting and capacitating these SMMEs, EWSETA is achieving impact directly, but at the same time extended impact given the nature of these two businesses and their focus on developing young people and communities.

Commenting on what this opportunity means to her and her company, Siyothula-Mtshizana explains: “We started operations in 2017 and have worked hard at establishing the company and the brand, but the Innovation Hub training will capacitate us with increased knowledge that will open doors and provide opportunities for growth, and ultimately enable In Pursuit Renewable Energy to fulfil its goal of growing and developing young people who have their sights set on a future in the alternative industry sector.”

Sephai supports this sentiment and adds: “KP Cares has been able to make a difference in the lives of many to date, but with our focus on driving youth skills development through internships, we aim to do even more in the future, and this opportunity that has been presented by EWSETA will help to achieve this.”

These inspiring ladies are part of a cohort of ten SMMEs from Gauteng, KZN and North-west that are participating in The Innovation Hub’s ongoing energy efficiency training programme for businesses that aim to deliver valuable energy efficiency services to the various markets. The programme facilitators and team have compiled an empowering and informative programme for entrepreneurs participating in the programme.

“The SMMEs participating in this programme were carefully selected in terms of their business model and aims and I believe that this programme will be successful in achieving the desired skills development impact,” concludes Mookapele.

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