Entrepreneurship with Fanuel Kangondo
With political and economic transformations sweeping across the globe, economic opportunities have also arisen for women to own and operate businesses.
Although it is not a new phenomenon to have women in business, it is the aggression and pace that the fairer sex has shown that has drawn my attention to the subject. Environmental changes have created economic opportunities for women who want to own and operate businesses. According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, women in advanced market economies own more than 25 percent of all businesses and women-owned businesses in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are growing rapidly.
In some regions of the world, transformation to a market economy threatens to sharpen gender inequality. Some of these changes are simply the legacy of a gender imbalance that existed prior to political and economic reforms. Other changes reflect a return to traditional norms and values that relegated women to a secondary status.
In Zimbabwe the emergence of successful female entrepreneurs such as Kubi (Chaza) Indi, Marah Hativagone, Florence Ziumbe, Jocelyn Chiwenga, Jane Mutasa, Divine Ndhlukula and many others have seen them hogging the limelight. They have distinguished themselves as outstanding entrepreneurs in a demanding business environment driven by a desire to achieve and succeed in their own right.
As countries become more democratic, gender inequalities lesson thus, offering a more productive atmosphere for both sexes.
Women’s business associations such as Proweb, IBWO and WABAZ play a vital role in identifying appropriate and/or emerging sectors where women entrepreneurs can succeed. Studies have shown that the areas that are likely to take off quickly during market revitalisation are public relations, transport, delivery, producing and marketing consumer goods, commercial banking, financial services, insurance and other service-related industries. In this process, women business owners are innovators, job creators and providers of economic security.
As owners of small and medium-sized enterprises women can also supply multinational companies with ideas, inventions, technology, raw materials, supplies, components and business services. Ultimately, female business owners will be recognised for who they are, what they do, and how significantly they impact the global economy. Some analysts have observed that change is afoot in the global economy and it is bearing a woman’s face.
Entrepreneurship emerges from an individual’s creative spirit into long-term business ownership, job creation and economic security. Women bring commitment and integrity because they care about economic empowerment, entrepreneurial development and innovation.
Female entrepreneurs seek the professional and personal support that is found in business associations. Economic globalisation in general has encouraged the expansion of female business ownership.
The global impact of women entrepreneurs continues to gain intensity worldwide and even here in Zimbabwe they have proved to be a force to reckon with. The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that women produce more than 80 percent of the food for Sub-Saharan Africa, 50-60 percent for Asia, 26 percent for the Caribbean, 34 percent for North Africa and the Middle East, and more than 30 percent for Latin America. Female entrepreneurs are active at all levels domestically, regionally and globally.
A recent United Nations report concluded that economic development is closely related to the advancement of women. In nations where women have advanced, economic growth has usually been steady.
According to a 1995 UN survey, “two changes have occurred over the past 10 years in the enabling environment for women in the economy. One is the establishment of legal equality for women. The other is granting
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Women entreprenuers claim their stake
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women equal access to education and training.”
Here are some interesting facts about women:
l In Japan – women establish 23 percent of private firms
l In Russia – women own 64 percent of firms employing 10 people or more
l In China – women founded 25 percent of the businesses since 1978
l In Germany – women have created one-third of the new businesses since 1990 representing more than one million jobs
l In Europe and former Soviet Union States – women are 25 percent of the business owners
In Hungary – women started more than 40 percent of all businesses since 1990
l In Poland – women own 38 percent of all businesses
l In Mexico – 32 percent of women-owned businesses were started less than five years ago
l In France – women head one in four firms
l In Swaziland – Women account for about 70 percent of micro, small and medium enterprises
l In USA – women own 38 percent of all businesses (8 million firms) employ 27,5 million people (or one in five workers), and generate US$3,6 trillion in annual sales
l In Great Britain – Women are a quarter of the self-employed sector
l In the EU – women start one-third of new businesses.
(Source: Estes, 1999; NFWBO, 1998; Women in Business-Lesotho, 1998; Jalbert, 1999; and Carter & Cannon, 1992.)
The window is open for our own female entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe and to borrow a phrase, “it is your time to arise”.
As always, let’s make money.