The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu has affirmed government’s commitment in supporting women entrepreneurs in an endeavor to reduce poverty.
Officially opening the second Region Women’s Exposition in Francistown last week, the minister revealed that the Botswana government has from 2004 hitherto, spent over P36 million to support these entrepreneurs.
“For the past 10 years from 2004 -2014 government sponsored a total of 337 women groups at a total cost of P36 281,763 with 2 615 individual beneficiaries. These individuals have in turn further reduced the number of people living below the poverty datum line in Botswana, as more women are able to provide basic needs for their families,” he said.
According to the 2011 Population and Housing Census, the minister said that of the P2, 2024 904 people living in the country only 989,128 (49 percent) are males whilst 1, 035, 766 (51 percent) are female. He said that women remain the majority in Botswana and are the most vulnerable to all sorts of mishaps including poverty as compared to men.
“These statistics therefore calls on government to develop strategies to address these challenge. I would therefore like to note that in order to eliminate the stubborn pockets of poverty affecting women, my government has adopted two broad strategies for economic empowerment of the poor especially women. These are the disbursement of funds to women for income generation activities and exposure of women entrepreneurs into the Trade Sphere,” Batshu said.
He further said that government recognizes the multifaceted challenges faced by women entrepreneurs including access to markets. He said that in order to complement the disbursement of funds for income generation activities by women, deliberate efforts are being made to facilitate them to access local, regional and international markets.
“The enrollment of women in the Women Exposition shows in the country has grown from 70 exhibitors in 1999 to 350 in 2014.The increase includes the Northern Exposition which started last year, with an enrollment of 150 exhibitors, the number we have maintained this year. This exposition has drawn women entrepreneurs from North East, Chobe, Ngami, Part of Central and Okavango districts with villages including; Manxotae,Masunga, Nata, Tonota, Tutume, Senete and Sepako,,” Batshu added.
He assured the participants that government fully takes into cognition the fact that the promotion of gender equality is an indispensable constituent of an effective Economic and Human Development Strategy.
Speaking at the same event during the prize giving ceremony, the Director of Tati River Clinic in Francistown, Dr Dorcas Mompati lauded the government for its continuous support on women entrepreneurs.
She said the Women Exposition is important because it provides women with opportunities for exchanging experiences, showcasing best practices and presenting case studies of successful business operations led by women.
“The Informal Sector Survey of 2007 indicates that 67.7 percent of informal sector businesses are operated by women. This sector represents an important part of the economy in the labour market as it plays the major role in creating employment, production and income generation,” she said.
Dr Mompati said that women are the building blocks for success in any economy as they bring a unique approach to business. She further said that women have been establishing small businesses at a high rate than men at the same time creating more jobs.
On a different note, she encouraged women entrepreneurs to incorporate technology into their business operations in order to improve business outputs.
“Research has shown that technology helps increase productivity in any business venture. I encourage you to consider entrenching technology into your business ventures to improve your business outputs,” she said.