‘Women in busi­ness need more sup­port’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Bianca Mlilo

THE bank­ing sec­tor should avail more fund­ing for fe­male en­trepreneurs who have for a long time suf­fered lack of cap­i­tal sup­port.

Busi­ness lead­ers said this yes­ter­day at a Women’s Devel­op­ment Di­a­logue se­ries meet­ing in Bu­l­awayo where it emerged that Africa has a $20 bil­lion fund­ing gap for women en­trepreneurs.

The meet­ing, which ran un­der the theme: “Fi­nanc­ing your dreams and plan­ning your legacy”, was at­tended by women in busi­ness and mar­ket lead­er­ship ex­perts.

Par­tic­i­pants ex­pressed con­cern over lack of ac­cess to fund­ing for women busi­nesses and stressed the need to pro­mote fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion for the ben­e­fit of the econ­omy.

They cried foul over high in­ter­est rates on loans charged by fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions with mi­cro-fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions charg­ing up to 25 per­cent in­ter­est per an­num. They said this was a ma­jor bar­rier to con­fi­dence build­ing in the bank­ing sec­tor.

The Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe re­cently di­rected mi­cro­fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions to cap their in­ter­est rates to 10 per­cent with big fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions re­quired to also re­duce theirs to around 15 per­cent.

MetBank re­tail and busi­ness devel­op­ment gen­eral man­ager Sarah Tem­bedza said most women businesspersons do not have bank ac­counts of their own with some re­ly­ing on their hus­bands.

De­spite be­ing the ma­jor­ity in the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion ac­count­ing for about 52 per­cent with av­er­age 70 per­cent em­ployed in small scale farm­ing, Tem­bedza said many women were still ex­cluded from fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

In­clu­sive Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices (IFS) man­ager Fran­cisca Nyaguze said her mi­cro­fi­nance in­sti­tu­tion was in the process of im­ple­ment­ing the credit col­lat­eral reg­istry sys­tem, where mov­able as­sets like cars and fur­ni­ture would be used as se­cu­rity when ap­ply­ing for a loan.

Pro­gramme co­or­di­na­tor Dorothy Ade­banjo said more needs to be done to sup­port women en­treprenuers who have long been de­nied ac­cess to fund­ing.

Those in busi­ness were en­cour­aged to de­velop a cul­ture of sav­ing and plan­ning ahead so as to grow their busi­nesses.

The Africa Devel­op­ment Bank (AfDB) early this year an­nounced a $300 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing fa­cil­ity to fund African women in agri-busi­ness to ac­cel­er­ate agri­cul­ture this year.

Ac­cord­ing to the AfDB, the cre­ation of the fi­nanc­ing fa­cil­ity is meant to chan­nel more funds to African women in agribusi­ness and pro­vide bank guar­an­tees.

The AfDB also has a women’s fund meant to de­velop busi­nesses in Zam­bia, Namibia, South Africa and Zim­babwe. — @Bian­caMlilo

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