Stanbic Bank Zambia partners International Trade Centre, Enhanced Integrated Framework and Commerce and Trade Ministry-backed SheTrades Zambia to link local businesswomen to global markets.
Republican Vice President Mrs Inonge Wina officially launched the Zambian chapter of the SheTrades initiative recently during the recent 2018 World Export Development forum held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
SheTrades is a global initiative created to improve the competitiveness of women-owned businesses and strengthen their opportunities to access regional and international markets.
SheTrades Zambia aims to spur economic growth and job creation for female-owned businesses in Zambia by expanding their role in the local and regional economy and in international trade. Working with national and international partners, Zambian female entrepreneurs can take advantage of tailored in-person and online training workshops and mentoring sessions. The programme will also conduct a data-mapping survey on female entrepreneurs to identify their specific needs.
To further address the challenges Zambian businesswomen face, SheTrades has partnered with Stanbic Bank Zambia to equip them with tools to help them succeed in business and tackle gender-specific challenges.
The initiative will be run by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) with support from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. The three institutions formalised their partnership during a signing ceremony witnessed by Her Honour the Vice President, Republican First Lady, Esther Lungu; Hon. Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry; Ellen Olafsen, World Bank Senior Private Sector Specialist for Southern Africa, among other top officials and dignitaries.
Mrs Wina said the barriers to women’s success in business were multidirectional. She stressed that women ought to appreciate and support each other to succeed.
She said: “The facets that hinder women’s success in business stem from multiple directions, ranging from lack of control over factors of production, limited access to finance and fear of the unknown and failure. However, women by nature are drivers and organisers and can overcome these barriers with the right attitude. Let us hold each other’s hands as we develop.” Ms Wina challenged women to step out of their comfort zones and take advantage of the support platforms to reach their full potential.
“No amount of support can yield positive results without the full participation of women. It will be nearly impossible to attain ‘Vision 2030’ of turning Zambia into a middle-income prosperous nation if women continue to be marginalised - hence the need to promote and support women empowerment initiatives,” she said.
“We are committed to working with SheTrades and other stakeholders to link export-ready female entrepreneurs to markets and ensure empowerment for sustainable growth,” added the powerful woman.
Speaking at the same event, First Lady Esther Lungu identified the need for stakeholders to create solutions to support women leaving no one behind. She highlighted that when women are empowered, the entire country benefits.
“When a woman raises money from her business, she re-invests it in the community. This means when a woman is empowered, families, communities and by extension, the whole nation, gain benefit. Let us encourage sector specific buyer-seller meetings to expose more women to trade opportunities and accelerate the growth of their businesses,” said the First Lady.
The previous SheTrades meeting held in Liverpool, UK, resulted in over $80 million worth of transactions and thousands of business deals.
Stanbic Bank Head of Branch Distribution and Sales Mwamba Musambo said the bank’s partnership with SheTrades through the Stanbic Anakazi Banking programme was designed to “give women wings to soar to the top of their careers in business.”
“It is a well known fact that women entrepreneurs in Zambia struggle to get adequate financing for their businesses. However, most businesswomen also lack the appropriate knowhow to successfully run a business. This is where Stanbic bank comes in. Through the Anakazi Banking programme, women not only have easier access to finance, but they also receive intensive training on how to prepare business proposals and other formal documents to attract investors as well as stand a better chance of accessing finance from banks. Under Anakazi Banking, women entrepreneurs receive a 1% discount on interest rates - making it cheaper for them to acquire finance for their business,” explained Musambo.
“We negotiate lower insurance premiums on assets owned by women entrepreneurs through our subsidiary Stanbic Insurance Brokers Zambia, to help protect their assets and investments and help facilitate sustainable growth.”
The SheTrades/ Anakazi Banking partnership brings a wealth of experience from across the globe that women can use to accelerate business growth.
She added that a group of women from the banking industry had come together to support women entrepreneurs through mentorship and soft skills training.
“40 bankers have come together in their individual capacities to support women in business through ongoing mentorship and training. This is being done away from the financial institutions, in a good example of women supporting women,” she said.
International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Arancha González said ITC would work with government and the private sector through SheTrades to better identify what Zambian women need to improve their competitiveness and take their business to the global marketplace.
Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Hon. Christopher Yaluma said the ministry was up to the challenge and would work to empower female entrepreneurs by leveraging multilateral partnerships and linking export-ready entrepreneurs to buyers, partners and investors across the globe. EIF Deputy Executive Director, Annette Ssemuwemba, noted that access to local, regional and global markets could have a life-changing effect on women and their families from the resulting reduction in poverty and income increases. “We see SheTrades Zambia serving as a catalyst so that women become inspired, informed drivers of trade,” she said. SheTrades has a presence in more than 10 countries with over 120 corporations and institutions supporting the growth of the programme.