Female owned businesses lead the way to SME's prosperity

25Nov 2021
Zuwena Shame
The Guardian
Female owned businesses lead the way to SME's prosperity

THE International Finance Corporation (IFC) a member of the World Bank Group through its Business Enabling Environment Support program (BEEs) in partnership with the High Commission of Canada consulted the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) and contracted Project CLEAR Ltd to design,-

Helen Fytche, Head of Cooperation, Canadian High Commission.

-support implementation and execution of the “Women Mean Business” Pilot Program that aims to recognize women who have shown tenacity, experience, positive impact and influence in running their businesses in Tanzania.

The program also seeks to equip start-up women owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by enhancing their business development skills and imparting entrepreneurial values.

At design stage Project Clear Ltd changed approach from usual training of successful business women to inspiring upcoming business women with lessons from successful women in business in the sectors of agribusiness, light manufacturing and tourism then amplify the recordings through social media and television.

On this backdrop, women in Tanzania have been urged to support each other, work together so as to build up confidence and compete on a broad market.

The call was made by Helen Fytche, Head of Cooperation at Canadian High Commission in Dar es Salaam recently during an exclusive interview with IPP Media.

Fytche said that in order for women to succeed in business and advance themselves professionally, they need to support each other regardless of the barriers they are facing.

“Strong women lift up each other, live together and work as a team so as to prosper and have successful businesses,” Fytche said.

She added that by doing so, many women doing business can have confidence and compete favourably not only with small groups but also large groups when competition arises.

She said women also need to amplify their voices as well as allow the space to make them develop confidence.

“It’s equally significant to support women in economic empowerment and build foundations so that they can develop their businesses and earn additional income to support their families,” Fytche added.

She noted that women in the private sector could play an active and crucial role in the country’s economic development process adding that a women inclusive approach can help in increasing the country’s economic growth.

“Advancing gender equality is key in bringing women into economic life" said Fytche.

On her side, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Senior Manager for Creating Markets Advisory, Lisa Kaestner, said creating economic opportunities for women in Africa is a priority for her organization as it supports economic growth and reduction of poverty on the continent.

She advised female SMEs in the country to be innovative, invest in business skills development and have confidence in what they do so as to compete favourably in both local and international markets.

Kaestner said that despite various challenges that many female small-scale entrepreneurs face in Tanzania that include access to loans, they should be ready to overcome the challenges they face and find solutions that will enable them to improve business and increase their incomes.

“You must believe in yourself, take the right steps in doing business. Be ready to learn to become an expert in your business” she added.

Kaestner noted that some of the criteria needed by female small-scale entrepreneurs to access local and international markets is to network and be up-to-date in the particular sector they are working in, and know which goods /services are required in the respective markets.

She noted that apart from access to capital, another challenge women face in their daily life and business is how to strike a balance between work and family duties. Globally women undertake three times more care and domestic work than men, with women in low and middle income countries devoting more time to unpaid work than women in high income countries. As a result, women are constantly time poor, which constrains their participation in the labour market and in their businesses.

“During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were working from home. We have seen women multi-tasking for instance, doing office work and taking care of their children,” She added.

When asked about some other challenges women face in countries where she has been working, Kaestner said that challenges are similar and some are different but globally the biggest challenge is access to capital to start a business.

She said that in many countries, legislations have been put in place on paper on issues like protecting women rights, equal opportunities for women but implementation in practice has not been slow.

She said that according to World Bank reports in Africa, women issues have been incorporated into legislations and laws like access to secure loans, maternity leave and all things that benefit women when they want to participate in economic activities.

When asked, why focus on women, she said that a lot of evidence shows that when you invest in women there is an additional impact in a society’s economy.

Lisa Kaestner International Finance Corporation (IFC) Senior Manager for Creating Markets Advisory.

According to the IFC, a strong and engaged private sector is indispensable to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. IFC has more than 60 years of experience in unlocking private investment, creating markets and opportunities where they’re needed most.

Since 1956, IFC has leveraged $2.6 billion in capital to deliver more than $285 billion in financing for businesses in developing countries.

Research shows that increasing women’s participation in the economy—as employees, entrepreneurs, and business leaders—would boost economic output and benefit generations to come. Women earners spend more on food and education than men do, and that introduces opportunities to lift their families and communities out of poverty.