Zambian Vice President Ingonge Mutukwa Wina, has said Entrepreneurship in Africa is being used as a tool for job and wealth creation.
And Mrs. Wina said the spirit of Entrepreneurship among Zambians, especially the women is alive and growing.
Speaking when she officiated at a breakfast meeting at the Legatum Institute in London on Tuesday on the theme: the opportunities and challenges for Women Entrepreneurs: The case for Zambia, the Vice President said the reason why the entrepreneurial spirit is being embraced is that it brings on the table the Youths and Women, emphasising on talent and skills rather than academic qualifications.
The Legatum Institute is an international think tank and educational charity focused on understanding, measuring, and explaining the journey from poverty to prosperity for individuals, communities and nations.
“I am very happy to be back at the Legatum institute to share with you ideas on the opportunities and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Zambia. it is against this background that I am happy to state that the spirit of entrepreneurship among Zambians, especially the women is alive and growing.Taking a cursory look at global trends, one observes that many countries have embraced the entrepreneurship model to foster development. I have in mind for example, India, China and Brazil. In Africa, entrepreneurship has in the recent past been recognised as a tool for job creation,” she said
She said in Zambia, where 70 percent of the population are youths and more than 50 percent are women, entrepreneurship offers an avenue for job creation and income generation as the private sector has greater capacity to create employment opportunities for those that cannot be absorbed in the public sector.
The Vice President said most women entrepreneurs in Zambia are involved in sectors such as Agriculture, Trading, Hospitality, Education, Construction and to some extent small scale Mining.
She said women entrepreneurs fully understand the ethos of business practice but lack critical skills such as Information Technology (IT), financial literacy and marketing among others.
“You will be interested to learn that the Zambian economy offers numerous opportunities for women entrepreneurs, some of which include: 30 percent of land allocations is reserved for women in order to improve access to land, public procurement policies and guidelines require some segments of construction contracts such as paving, road maintenance and provision of building materials, to be undertaken by Zambian small scale entrepreneurs, especially the women and youth, government has established industrial parks in all the 10 provinces for establishment of value adding industries such as agro-processing, government provides startup capital, technical support, training and market linkages through institutions such as, Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA),” she said.
Mrs. Wina said women entrepreneurs in Zambia face many challenges in the conduct of their business such as, access to credit due to stringent lending criteria by financial institutions requiring collateral and financial records, access to market due to lack of information and contacts, poor packaging and product presentation due to lack of technology and skill, lack of networking platforms and opportunities for exchange of information and best practice; and lack of knowledge in financial management and accounting.
The Vice President however said the Zambian government has taken steps to address challenges of market access, land allocation and credit.
“We also have the Presidential market initiative; an initiative which His Excellency the President, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu is promoting and championing, by providing small credit loans to enable the Marketeers in town markets grow and expand their businesses. Furthermore, my office is championing an initiative called Jubilee Women integrated highway modern markets, whose objective is to use these highway markets as economic development hubs and in the process empower women who constitute 80 percent of Marketeers,” she said.
She also invited investors to partner with Zambian women entrepreneurs and help to build capacity in identification of business opportunities, preparation of business plans, financial management and accounting, marketing, legal and tax issues, among others.
The Vice President also called upon global financial institutions to come up with affirmative action programmes that would assist women excess credit.