HARARE - Late South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel was in Zimbabwe last week to launch the Network of African Business Women (NABW).
She said Zimbabwean women must participate in the economic development of the country by embarking in sustainable business ventures.
Machel said “one of the reasons we (women) have not succeeded as much as we could is because we are fragmented”.
“We need a common voice,” she said, adding that “if we are fragmented, we go with different perspectives to talk to various ministers in our specific sectors and government gets confused because there are 100 voices speaking on behalf of women”.
Hazel Chinake, chairperson of NABW’s Zimbabwe Chapter, told businessdaily that women play a key role in many African economies and must be empowered.
“Most women find it difficult to borrow money from financial institutions due to lack of collateral and the need to get approval from their men. As such, we are lobbying to have financial products tailor-made for women as a way of promoting financial inclusion,” she said.
Chinake noted that NABW-Zimbabwe was currently engaging banks and the private sector to come up with solutions affecting local businesswomen in various sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mining, construction, ICTs and manufacturing among other things.
Rudo Boka, the chief executive at Boka Tobacco Auction Floors noted that there was need for sustained empowerment of women in tobacco farming as they contributed immensely to the economy.
“Women by their numerical majority, representing 80 percent of rural dwellers and their strategic role as the nation’s mothers, cannot be ignored in national development,” she said at the launch of NABW-Zimbabwe.
“Rural women work 16-18 hours a day, spending at least 49 percent of their time on agricultural activities and about 25 percent on domestic activities,” said Boka.
NABW, conceived in 2011 comprises a network of 12 national chapters in East and Southern Africa, targets to champion women’s economic advancement in Africa.