Exploit opportunities, Zim women urged

HARARE - Zimbabwean businesswomen must exploit opportunities and shy away from protectionism mentality, if they are to succeed, Industry and commerce deputy minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa said.

Mabuwa, speaking at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) “Women in Enterprise” awards conference last week, said “women should exploit existing opportunities in trade by exporting value added products”.

“Move away from the mentally of wanting to be protected by government through. You should be ready for competition in domestic and external markets,” she said.

She said access to markets was no longer a constraint as the European Union had opened to Zimbabwean products following the lifting of trade restrictions last year, adding that “we do not want to negotiate with other countries on open trade which only benefits them”.

Mabuwa, however, said locals should also look into issues of pricing and quality of their products.

Swedish Development Cooperation (Sida)’s country director Maria Selin further stated that women’s economic empowerment is crucial for a country.

She said women’s empowerment is not only about poverty alleviation, but also their involvement in economic policy making.

“Unemployment figures in Zimbabwe are very high and women should come up with the jobs. Start-ups are very good but they also need to grow,” said Selin.

She added; “Access to finance is very important, but when applying women need to be equipped with collateral or property rights. This is where gender equality comes in through inheritance were both sexes must have equal rights and opportunities,”.

Some of the women who won the ZNCC awards – targeted at encouraging women entrepreneurship – include Selma Mtukudzi in the music category, Joy Makumbe for construction, Zodwa Nkandla in tourism and Ambuya Stella Chiweshe who received an honorary award for her role in music development.

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