Johannesburg — Shop owner Maphefo Ntshupetsang supports her family by selling cold drinks, vegetables and snacks. Now, thanks in part to a new program led by Coca-Cola South Africa and UN Women, she’s growing her business and reinvesting in her family and community.

“Since joining the program, I’ve managed to save money by buying in bulk,” says Ntshupetsang, a 51-year-old mother of five. “I now know that doing things alone in business does not pay. By interacting with other people, you get new ideas.”

She’s one of more than 4,500 women entrepreneurs, to date, in South Africa’s Gauteng and North West provinces who have received training on bookkeeping, marketing, budgeting, business planning and other skills.

UN Women and Coca-Cola South Africa announced the program, which is being supported by local partner Hand in Hand, last week in Johannesburg. The partners plan to train 25,000 women entrepreneurs in nine South African provinces -- many of whom are running small retail businesses that sell Coca-Cola products -- by the end of 2015.

Initial results indicate the training is working. Ngoetsana Sehlabo, a 36-year-old mother, credits the training with improving her record-keeping. By tracking and cutting expenses, she’s saving money to pour back into her business. 

“We know that a woman’s income immensely benefits not only them but also their children’s education and other family needs. Empowering women entrepreneurs will benefit communities and future generations,” says Sadiq Syed, deputy representative and officer-in-charge, UN Women South Africa.

The program is part of a broader partnership announced in 2011 by Coca-Cola and UN Women that also includes Egypt and Brazil. Working together, Coca-Cola and UN Women are addressing barriers facing women entrepreneurs by providing them with business skills and leadership training, mentoring and peer networking. The partnership will contribute to Coca-Cola’s 5by20 goal to empower 5 million women by 2020 globally. 

Vukani Magubane, director of public affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola South Africa, said women who participate in the program will “will have greater ability to establish and grow their businesses, increase their earnings and create new jobs in their communities.”

Their success will set an example for other women, creating a virtuous cycle.

“Empowering women, one woman at a time, is the right thing to do for the sustainability of our communities,” Magubane said.