Rise above SME status, women urged

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WOMEN entrepreneurs should work hard and rise above the small to medium enterprise (SME) bracket to meaningfully contribute to economic growth, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, Judith Ncube, said yesterday.

Addressing women at a ‘women in business meeting’ held in the city on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), the Minister challenged women to aim higher and grow their operations into big businesses.

“Our focus must be to run viable businesses that contribute to the Gross Domestic Product thereby reviving our economy. As women in business, the onus is upon us to be co-drivers and benefactors of Zimbabwe’s economic development process.

“It is important that we are recognised, not as workers in the field but as producers in the agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors,” said Min Ncube.

“For women, the only way of attaining economic empowerment is the transition from owning small income generating projects to being fully fledged business women who own trusts, companies and manufacturing factories with the goal of supporting each other as women.”

The Minister said while SMEs were good starting points for women venturing into business, there was a need to graduate into large scale business so as to help other women get into business and grow out of the informal sector.

“I am proud of all the women here. The work that you are all doing in your various spheres is commendable.

“Let me express my profound gratitude to all the business women here present.

“The new dispensation has honestly and clearly indicated that Zimbabwe is open for business and as women, we should take it upon ourselves to open the gates of business to investors,” she said.

Min Ncube said Government’s desire was to economically and socially empower women through planned and concrete programmes where women in business can pull up or mentor those who are still struggling to break free from the shackles of feminised poverty.

“The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development is mandated to promote the empowerment of women and this goes well with the provisions of the Constitution, which state that every woman has full and equal dignity with men and this includes equal opportunities in political economic and social services,” she said.

“Guided by the national gender policy and the broad based women empowerment framework, the ministry is mainstreaming women in the main economic sectors such as mining, agriculture tourism and manufacturing.

“Women are dominating the informal business sector with regards to the marketing and selling of products.

“However, there are still major setbacks that are inhibiting the expansion of this sector, such as overall lack of access to markets and market linkages, lack of understanding of existing trade regimes and bilateral agreements and difficulties in meeting the potential demand in high quality standards of products.”

Min Ncube also said Government was working on addressing issues of marketing women’s products, through facilitating linkages and organising the participation of women in exhibitions at national, regional and international levels.

“Existing market promotion activities and services are not sufficient considering the needs of women producing high quality Zimbabwean products.

“It is the desire of the ministry that women have access to markets in order for their products to be exported across the globe. I, therefore appeal to everyone here present to assist by creating multi-lateral market avenues for these women’s products,” she said.

Min Ncube expressed confidence that given all support, women entrepreneurs can drive economic growth.

“The meeting was attended by women from various sectors and female industry leaders from mining, agriculture, manufacturing, medicine and others.–chronicl.co.w

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