Empowering Women Will Create a Prosperous Society [column]

The majority of businesswomen and aspiring female entrepreneurs in Namibia are stuck in a condition that does not allow them to progress.

However, if more women owning small- and medium-size enterprises are empowered then poverty can be reduced and a more prosperous society can be realised. This was part of the message by the main speakers at a Namibian Women’s Economic Empowerment dialogue in the capital yesterday. The dialogue, which took place under the theme – ‘Equipping Women with the Necessary Tools to Enable their Contribution to Namibia’s Economic Development’ – is the product of a partnership between the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and the Embassy of Finland in Namibia.

The objective of the discussion was to share and review the available tools and programmes promoting sustainable growth for women in business. According to the Women’s Desk at the NCCI, the desired outcome is to understand the available tools and to identify support shortfalls requiring reinforcement. The Finnish government’s development policy supports local policies that increase equal economic opportunities for everyone. “Empowerment of women entrepreneurs is an important aspect of bringing in equality by rendering women more independent in supporting themselves. By strengthening the development of women, economic development is also enhanced, said Finnish Ambassador Anne Saloranta. According to her priority areas to focus on for women in business include access to finance, business support and entrepreneurial education.

The NCCI’s Women’s Desk project is a collaboration between the chamber and the Tampere Women’s Association in Finland, funded by the Finnish foreign ministry. The main aim of the desk, which is headed by Joyce Mwangi-Nauyoma, is capacitating women entrepreneurs in Namibia so that they can prosper and access mainstream business activities. During a presentation of the Women’s Desk’s pilot project in the Karas Region, Mwangi-Nauyoma noted that some of the challenges faced by women in business in Namibia include lack of technical skills, lack of market insight, inability to reach financial and capital resources, lack of management skills and experience, as well as a lack of quality assurance capacities. Mwangi-Nauyoma also remarked that during 2013 the pilot project, which received funding from the Tampere Women’s Association in Finland, 165 women in the Karas Region were trained. While it is estimated that about 51 percent of the Namibian population is female, women in the country are rated as the most unemployed group. Also, while two thirds of the world’s illiterate people are female, they make up about 65 percent of the poorest people in the world.

Source : New Era