Building materials company Lafarge South Africa and Volvo Trucks South Africa have joined forces with other stakeholders to launch the AccelerateHer initiative, aimed at speeding up the development of women-owned truck operations in the country.
Ten women from KwaZulu-Natal will be selected for the pilot phase of the project, with the intention to replicate and grow the model throughout the country in a step-by-step approach.
The initiative is aimed at increasing the number of female owner-drivers rendering a service to Lafarge operations.
The successful applicants will receive three years of training through the Commercial Transport Academy (CTA), as part of Volvo Trucks’ Iron Women heavy commercial driver training programme.
The Iron Women programme, which has been running since 2019, will teach the participants how to operate trucks safely, profitably and efficiently, enabling them to ultimately receive their commercial driver qualification.
The participants will also undergo intensive business acumen training to empower them as owner-drivers, with a focus on aspects like technology, finance, entrepreneurship, business and road transport management, as well as labour legislation and human resources practices.
The women will also be mentored professionally throughout the programme.
Once qualified, the new female owner-drivers will be incorporated in the Lafarge KwaZulu-Natal operations as active operators.
“We believe that given the correct resources and support, these women-owned transport businesses have the potential to flourish and make a real change in the lives of the participants, their families and their communities,” says Lafarge aggregates and ReadyMix director Noriko Solomon.
“We understand that this project is another step towards economic inclusion; building accessible and sustainable communities for the future,” adds Lafarge procurement director Kervin Ali.
The Volvo trucks used for the project will be financed by Volvo Financial Services.
“We are excited about the new doors that will be opened for women in transport because of this joint initiative with Lafarge South Africa,” says Volvo Group Southern Africa VP Marcus Hörberg.
“As a big supporter of the difference women can make in the industry, we are very proud and humbled that the Volvo Trucks Iron Women project has been able to develop and grow and make such a lasting impact in many people’s lives.”
Looking to the future, both companies say that they are looking to involve more stakeholders, including provincial and national government, to expand the reach and impact of the programme.