Jennifer Mufamba and Panashe Nyamudeza
National trade promotion body, ZimTrade has launched the NextSheExporter programme, an initiative aimed at facilitating development of export-oriented women entrepreneurs.
ZimTrade board chairperson, Clara Mlambo said the programme sought to capacitate female entrepreneurs and nurture them into the next big exporters. “This innovative programme will therefore ensure Zimbabwean women from across the country are empowered to confidently engage in trade discourse,” she said.
ZimTrade said the programme was aimed at empowering at least 20 women in each province, which would give a total of 200 across all provinces in the country.
She added, the world today, needed innovators and game changers who are resilient and highly adaptable, meaning every women should seek to outdo themselves. Addressing delegates, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, in a speech read on her behalf by her deputy, Dr Jennifer Mhlanga, said the Government was committed to promoting gender equality as well as empowering women across the nation.
She said the Government had come up with programmes and initiatives to provide financial support to businesswomen through women focused institutions. “My ministry administered funds to financial institutions to provide support the groups of female entrepreneurs and $835,3 million was disbursed for women in business,” she noted.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredrick Shava, in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy David Musabayana, said “There is growing global consensus that empowering women economically is without doubt one of the most promising opportunities to lift millions out of poverty.
The southern African country is implementing the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy Vision and Export Promotion Strategy, an export led growth initiative, which seeks to achieve the US$7 billion export target by 2023 and US$14 billion by 2030, by which Zimbabwe is expected to be a prosperous upper middle income society.
Minister Shava said women needed to broaden and reorient their enterprises to make substantial contributions towards the growth of Zimbabwe’s export base.
He added that, women faced difficulties identifying opportunities to expand and internationalise due to lack of relevant skills and networking opportunities as well as unequal access to financial resources.
The Minister assured women that Zimbabwe remained committed to gender equality and sustainable economic development through ensuring women access as demonstrated through the establishment of the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB). A panellist at the NextSheExporter and Managing Consultant Odiline Kava emphasized the need for passion and skills development among women entrepreneurs to succeed in the business world.
The chief executive officer of ZWMB Mandas Marikanda, represented by the head of credit, Auxilia Chikava, said since the women faced difficulties deciding on business ideas, the bank was there to collaborate with them to shape the business ideas until they come up with proper business proposals which are bankable.
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