At the recent Student Women Economic Empowerment Programme (SWEEP) webinar, Ms Cwenga Koyana, a Postgraduate student in Film and Television at the University of Cape Town, shared the benefit of implementing co-branding strategies through social media to advance organisational objectives. It is one of the techniques they are using for their social impact non-profit organisation, Talitha Together, where she is also a Project Manager.
The webinar, held on 25 May, sought to share insights with SWEEP members on the value of social media in personal and business marketing.
SWEEP is an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Programme, established to address the underrepresentation of student women in entrepreneurship at public universities. It seeks to equip student women for entrepreneurial activity by offering them transferable and practical skills and opportunities backed by a foundation of academic stewardship.
This problem is what inspired the five women to found Talitha Together, with intent to ignite hope in these young girls. “We do not want them to be left behind in society, and we do not want them to not realise their dreams,” she said.
Ms Koyana subscribes to an African adage that says, “When you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” She used this maxim in Talitha Together’s pitch to the UNESCO’s Dream for Change competition, which concluded in March 2022, in Paris. Talitha Together’s initiative emerged as one of the winners.
Now, in implementing their programme, Talitha Together has partnered with various local organisations. Among those is Rotary International’s YES WE CAN Business Women Network, which linked them to Flourish, an accredited host with trainers who help with antenatal and postnatal classes. They have also partnered with Khensani’s Collection to provide extra lessons and tutor support to pregnant teenagers so that they are able to still submit assignments, even when they are no more attending classes.
Co-branding to promote Talitha Together on social media
Now that Talitha Together is ready to scale up their programme, Ms Koyana says they need to spread the word so that their cause gains traction for more partnerships and sponsors. They have found social media platforms a great vehicle for that, considering their accessibility and affordability.
“On Instagram, we co-author some of our posts with our main partner, YES WE CAN Business Women Network, to create awareness of our cause among their followers. We also execute campaigns on our own social media platforms,” she said.
“Our most recent one was on Teen Pregnancy Prevention, in celebration of May as the International Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. We posted useful information on contraceptive methods and sexually transmitted diseases, recognising that many teens do not have access to this information.
“Furthermore, we share testimonials of the pregnant teens we are helping, to appeal for public support and contributions.”
Ms Koyana said they aim to use more storytelling as their brand strategy technique on social media, including appreciation posts for people who have donated towards their cause to encourage more donations.
“On LinkedIn, we have a strategic alliance with Christian Dior Couture, who recently posted about Talitha Together’s initiative on their page, which has a following of one million people. This, again, is to help our programme spread awareness and reach more people around the globe to support our cause. Most of the content we post on Instagram we replicate on LinkedIn but with a more professional tone since LinkedIn is more business networking orientated.”
More about this social enterprise
“We are trying to prevent the girls from dropping out of school completely, if they do not feel comfortable continuing to attend classes, because obviously they are met with a lot of social stigmatisation and rejection at school,” she said. The Zimbabwe chapter of Talitha Together is also collaborating with other organisations in that country to enable the cause to scale up and reach as many girls as possible, and to support and encourage them to stay in school.
Another pillar of Talitha Together is entrepreneurship, which aims to instil independence in the girls by enabling them to generate income to take care of themselves and their children. To that end, and through the Khensani’s Collection partnership, the girls will learn to make and sell eco-bricks – using recycled and repurposed plastic.
The entrepreneurship wing extends to a concept they call Fashionpreneur. “This is about pregnant teenagers selling used donated clothes, from which they would be able to keep 50% of the profit and the other 50% would go towards their stationery and the extra lessons, for continuing learning,” Ms Koyana explained.
Within Fashionpreneur, Talitha Together will be teaching these young girls sewing skills to enable them to meet their own clothing needs, and to sell. They will be using sewing machines donated in support of the cause.
SWEEP to continue affording opportunities to student women
As the SWEEP session drew to a close on 25 May, Dr Norah Clarke, Director: Entrepreneurship at Universities South Africa (USAf), assured student women that even though this was the last webinar in the 2022 series, a lot was yet to come. “We are working hard behind the scenes to get more opportunities lined up.”
She said at the launch of SWEEP in October 2021, student women had outlined their needs, which included opportunities for networking, opening doors and access to mentorship and advice, including specific pieces of training.
“We have taken note of those needs and have been working to get the right kind of partnerships in place,” Dr Clarke assured the prospective women entrepreneurs.
The final webinar was attended by 32 participants, representing, in the main, student women aspiring to start and grow their businesses while pursuing their study programmes at various public universities in South Africa.
Nqobile Tembe is a Communication Consultant contracted to Universities South Africa.