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Sunday, 25 July 2010 09:00

Helping Women to Become Successful Entrepreneurs

By Dassu Stephen

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, July 25, 2010, (Tanzania Daily News) — LOCAL women entrepreneurs have plenty of opportunities for their businesses' growth and expansion only if they employ the right methods of doing business.


According to experts, women entrepreneurs need not only to think beyond the box, but also pragmatic support to surmount huddles which make them sluggish participants in the business arena.


An official in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development, Ms Joyce Shaidi, mentions meagre capital, lack of confidence and failure to access information that will expose them to other parts of the world as some of the factors hampering women's effective participation in business.


Ms Shaidi who is the Director of Youth Development says one of the fundamental goals of the Month for Women Entrepreneurs (MOWE), is to address some of the hurdles that hinder women from becoming successful entrepreneurs, both locally and internationally.


"The Month for Women Entrepreneurs is basically geared to promote and assist local business women to become more productive in their respective areas," she says.


MOWE is part of the Women's Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality (WEDGE) programme that was initiated in 2002. Sponsored by the Irish government, the programme is aimed at eradicating socio-cultural, legal and political obstacles for macro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) women entrepreneurs.


According to the Executive Director of the Confederation of the Informal Sector, Ms Gloria Kavishe, the programme in Tanzania has played a significant role in boosting women from all aspects of life.


Ms Kavishe says the programme provides women entrepreneurs and organizational leaders with opportunities to attend business training such as workshops, symposia and seminars where they get knowledge on how to create a better working environment for MSMEs in Tanzania.


"During such meetings, the participants exchange views and share experiences on matters related to entrepreneurship. We have connected over 1,000 local entrepreneurs with other successful entrepreneurs from a number of neighbouring countries," she explains.


Improvement of the business environment for women entrepreneurs is one of WEDGE's major achievements in Tanzania. The programme has reached out to more than 2,500 women entrepreneurs, who have participated in training workshops on entrepreneurship development using the International Labour Organization-WEDGE tools.


These tools are intended to give skills and new ideas on technical, organizational, leadership, good governance, association formation and communication issues, in order to strengthen the organizations and the entrepreneurs.


"More than 1,500 women entrepreneur participated in national and international trade fairs, at Saba Saba, the United Nations Day and at "Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi" exhibitions held in July, August, September and November, last year," she explains.


The event, she says, provided women and other partners with opportunities to gain experience and exchange contacts with national and international customers," she notes.

One of such events which took place last September linked up more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs to the Tanzania Women's Bank also founded in (2009).


"We have more women joining this bank and most of them have secured soft loans in order to start various ventures," she explains.


Ms Kavishe is optimistic that other ambitious women will make use of available opportunities, such as the Women's Bank, in order to embark on more rewarding businesses.

But others believe that lack of capital is not the only problem there are other forces behind the scene.


According to Mrs Joyce Shaidi, women who aspire to become successful need more courage and perseverance and as she put it: "I think our people should not be afraid of starting businesses and on the contrary, they need to be confident on what they intend to do. Some of them are even psychologically scared to embark on such ventures fearing to incur losses. This kind of negative attitude should be erased in their minds."


Mrs Shaidi also notes that it is equally important for women entrepreneurs to think and act beyond their respective domestic sphere.


"We, for example, expect our entrepreneurs to make effective use of the newly introduced common market in East Africa. This is an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to learn good things from their neighbours and use the skills gained to improve their businesses in order to capture foreign markets," she says.


Ms Kavishe is also of the view that entrepreneurs need to learn on how to expand and grow and this is possible only if they co-operate and network with other successful business people.


"And that is what MOWE has been striving to accomplish...I think we are now heading on the right direction," she says.


She says the third MOWE event will take place in September, this year in four regions of Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Tanga, Zanzibar and Morogoro.

"We expect to have various entrepreneurship related exhibitions, symposia, seminars and worshops.All of these are the tools to let women and other members of the public know that women can also make a difference in doing businesses," she says.



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