By FIONA MPOFU
A hundred women entrepreneurs, thirty of them from Bulawayo’s different business sectors have been chosen for a six months business training to be hosted by the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).
This programme is set to afford women the chance to academically improve their business knowledge through an online training programme with Dream Builder in partnership with Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoran.
AWE supports the growth of women entrepreneurs around the world and was designed to empower women to reach their economic potential, creating conditions for increased stability and prosperity for all.
Thubelihle Ndlovu one of Zimbabwe’s three facilitators on the programme told Amakhosikazi Media, that the challenges faced by women Entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe were similar to the challenges faced by women all over Africa.
“The issue of access to finance, we are saying normally financial institutions will ask for collateral and in the African perspective you find that the property or the collateral in the house normally belongs to the man and basically women are excluded in terms of access to finances because they don’t even have the collateral to put up for a loan, should they need funding,” she said.
Ndlovu highlighted that women were also facing a problem of exclusion from economic empowerment initiatives.
She said this was a build up from historical practices that shunned the education of a girl child and thus making it hard for her to break ground with little to no qualifications at all.
Ndlovu added, “Even in a marriage setup a woman actually has to bulldoze through a whole array of chores because there is so much to be done in the home, leaving very little time for her to actually better herself economically.”
This programme will be accommodating women from different sectors such as logistics, manufacturing, borehole drilling, art and crafts, beauty and hair care, ICT, bio-techs, journalism and the legal field.
One of the selected women Nobuhle Ntaisi, owner of Nobby Snacks a growing biltong brand said she was looking forward to learning how to take her business out to the world, how to price her product and market it online.
“I am hoping to learn so much about business, how to get my product to the international market because at the moment I am just doing it here in Bulawayo. I have sent some sample packets to South Africa and have gotten a positive response, now people want more but because I am still small I am failing to meet the demand.”
The selected women will be expected to complete business planning components such as outlining business objectives, refining a prototype, sales and marketing, developing partnership, securing funding and managing resources.
“Women will be given a chance to actually upscale themselves academically and there is also the mentoring aspect, there is peer to peer learning, women are going to get access to networks, access to even other U.S. State department networks,” said facilitator Thubelihle Ndlovu.