This week saw the start of the National Women’s Exposition.
Principally organised by the Women’s Affairs Department, the National Women’s Exposition is a business forum that gives women entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their products.
The forum provides to women entrepreneurs an opportunity for networking as well as to explore better and more efficient ways of enhancing the quality of their products.
Latest information on markets trends and opportunities also get to be available.
The theme for this year’s expo is “Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Sector: Pillars in Economic Diversification”.
Our belief is that the theme could not have been more apt.
First and foremost, underlying the theme is the importance of the informal sector in the overall national economy.
In a very broad way, the theme recognizes the important role women can play in Botswana’s expressed national goal of economic diversification.
The theme also goes to draw attention to the fact that women have a big role to play in empowering themselves and their societies.
At the centre of such efforts to empower themselves sits the informal sector.
Faced with the mammoth task of diversifying the economy away from diamonds, it is reassuring to note that there are those sections within our society that are clear sighted enough to recognize that we are endowed with all the necessary ingredients to achieve this important goal.
If only we could look within and stop complicating issues, calling for things that are beyond us.
One of the greatest treasures that Botswana is endowed with is human resources.
And in Botswana, women constitute a very important component of that resource.
It, therefore, is difficult as to be impossible to see how Botswana would under any circumstances achieve economic diversification unless the strategy has at its core the involvement of women.
Thus we take heart from official statistics that highlight the fact that already women are far ahead in the role they play in developing and nurturing the informal sector.
With Batswana women having been able to take such a strong lead ÔÇô 67 percent as against the 33 percent of their male counterparts, it only makes sense that, where possible, Government should intervene with targeted schemes that can only help to further integrate the informal sector into the mainstream economy by providing linkages, especially through identifying markets and related opportunities.
As it transpired at the opening of the expo, information is critical in the running of any form of business today.
We call on women entrepreneurs to acquire more information with regard to market access, competition, inputs, technology, quality assurance and the like as a way of empowering themselves so as to be better placed to take their businesses to even greater heights.
Across the globe, the informal sector has proved by far the most enduring, reliable and sustainable sector, especially in the area of employment.
Many countries in the developing world have used the informal sector as the driving engine with which to push their economies to greater heights.
There are many such examples in Asia and Latin America.
Botswana should take the cue from such countries like India and China.
The mere fact that we are beginning to give the sector the huge recognition it deserves, with women at its forefront goes to show that we are on track.
Batswana women have proved themselves strong, sturdy and persevering when faced with all the challenges that come with running a business.
Compared to their male counterparts, Batswana women have also proved themselves more disciplined and conscientious on such matters like financial management and accountability ÔÇô the two attributes that are critical to the success of any business ÔÇô large or small.
We therefore have no doubt that as a country, thanks to the quality of our women folk, we are better prepared to measure up to the challenge of using the informal sector not only to power the national economy to new levels but also to fast track the country’s difficult economic diversification process as we also provide vast amounts of employment to a great majority of our citizens ÔÇô the WOMEN.