Investing in women’s businesses is key for economic growth

31Oct 2019
Correspondent
The Guardian
Investing in women’s businesses is key for economic growth

Throughout history, the central role of women in society has fortified the stability, progress and long-term development of nations. This is because of the critical role they play in the household, in terms of ensuring the overall well-being of its members.

Such roles range from guaranteeing that the basic needs are met like food, shelter for the household, maintaining a healthy environment and facilitating access to education for children, among other needs.

Further, should the community face any social or economic challenges, women take the lead in warranting the safety and protection of the family. This encompasses the critical role of spearheading households back to stability and adjusting to the challenges at hand, as well as identifying steps to a better future.

In tandem with women, trade remains a growth catalyst for communities worldwide from time immemorial. Through trade, jobs have been created, it has led to the creation of consumer choice, craft development, technological advancement as well as creating cross-border communication and regional trade.

In Tanzania, women make just over half of the total population constituting 27.7 million or about 51.9 percent while men account for 48.9 percent according to UN Women. Noting the high number of women in the country, their potential to influence economic growth cannot be ignored. Interestingly, women constitute 43 percent of all entrepreneurs in Tanzania according to the 2004 research by the African Development Bank and International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Tanzania has an estimated 5.2 million women and men employed by or running micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).  More than 50 percent of women are found in the MSMEs segment of the economy where they have potential to mature provided they have access to financial services and capacity building support to run their businesses professionally.

Entrepreneurship stands as a net positive vehicle and means to achieve societal and economic goals in order to realise the full potential for the women in the country.

Given the resourceful and crucial role of women in the household setting, women-owned enterprises are a strategic growth catalyst if supported accordingly.

Tanzania ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business shines a light on the need to support small businesses to improve the wellbeing of its citizenry.

With the country falling seven places to 144 out of 190 economies in 2018, it is proof that not only public policy but innovative means to empower the population are needed for marketplace readiness for entrepreneurs.

Social commentators and economists have argued that the current unemployment crisis is as a result of an education and economic system heavily reliant on labour supply instead of incubating entrepreneurship and skilling.

Entrepreneurship-centered learning produces a cascading effect as with more business ventures created, more people get a higher chance of accessing employment.

It is clear that SMEMs compromise a significant portion of the total businesses, with more than three million enterprises in the country. It is estimated that Tanzanian SMEM’s contribute just under a third of total GDP, standing at 27 percent. The full realisation of the potential of this sector of the economy must be actualised for the benefit of the nation as a whole.

Relevant upskilling needs to be undertaken within the labour gaps in different sectors and by identifying the marketplace gaps through training to meet such needs.

For Tanzania to harness the demographic dividend it currently enjoys, the World Economic Forum 2018 report recommends for women’s holistic involvement in the economy.

KCB Foundation, is alive to the facts and through its flagship targeted technical skills and enterprise programme “2jiajiri,” took the initiative to upskill women-owned enterprises in the country starting with a class of 245 women in 2018.

Dubbed “Malkia wa Nguvu” in Tanzania, the programme aims to nature women-owned entrepreneurs across the country. This is by providing much needed financial training and extensive business development services that will see small businesses achieve their full potential and grow into fully established enterprises.

In light of this, KCB Foundation has commissioned 160 Tanzanian youth for training under 2jiajiri. These young people will be trained on several informal sector trades as well as entrepreneurial development; ultimately enabling them to become self-employed and also create jobs for their peers.

In Kenya,three years since the 2jiajiri was launched the impact has been vast and deliberate.  The programme has so far skilled over 25,000 youth beneficiaries on technical skills and financial literacy across the country and close to 7,000 individuals have accessed business incubation support.

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