‘Women in business need more support’
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