Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
FIRST Lady Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa has urged women in business to effectively make use of funds from the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank to foster economic empowerment and development in line with President Mnangagwa’s vision.
President Mnangagwa launched the bank last month with a seed capital amounting to $10 million.
Addressing a fully-packed women in business forum at the School of Hospitality and Tourism in Bulawayo yesterday, the First Lady said women play a significant role in driving economic and social progression of communities.
Cognisance of their role, she said, the President had seen it fit to support women-driven projects by establishing the women’s microfinance bank.
The First Lady said in this light they should not embarrass the President whose vision was to transform the country’s economy.
“On this one (bank), woman I encourage you to work hard and make sure that you open accounts in our bank because we don’t want to embarrass our President, the minister and also the bank itself,” she said. “This bank was specifically opened for us. Women are hard workers and what they think and say, they do it. I pray to God for this bank to be bank number one”.
In line with the economic development agenda, the First Lady said, the new political dispensation had seen it fit to establish a bank aimed at financing women-owned projects.
The First Lady challenged women to participate in economic affairs of the country by investing in sectors such as mining, tourism, agriculture and trade.
As part of a broader economic empowerment initiative, she said, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had also been engaged to facilitate women access to various funds that were being administered by local financial institutions.
The First Lady urged women to pay back the loans, adding that Zimbabwean women were known to be dignified persons who honour their financial obligations. “Bulawayo has traditionally been an industrial hub. The coming on board of the Ministry of Women Affairs initiative of an incubation hub is a welcome development. Such hubs will house a variety of skills development and this will capacitate the beneficiaries to start-up their own enterprises,” Amai Mnangagwa said.
“Now I am appealing to businesswomen here present to support this innovative idea as it benefits the country at large.”
The First Lady applauded Matabeleland businesswomen for establishing thriving self-help projects at a time when the economy suffered a recession for close to two decades.
She said she deliberately did not open a bank account with the women’s bank when it was officially launched because she intended to do so in Bulawayo.
Earlier in her address, the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs, Cde Angeline Masuku, noted that the city was poised to regain its industrial hub status.
“It is therefore fitting that the women in Bulawayo and the country at large should take the lead in economic activities as we are in the new dispensation.
His Excellency, the President has travelled across the world telling investors that Zimbabwe is open for business,” she said.
Cde Masuku said under the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra, President Mnangagwa has women in mind as well.
“We are saying joint ventures that might come into this country to revitalise our economy should not leave women out. And how should that be, it is the women themselves who will demonstrate that like they have demonstrated here today by coming to attend the business forum. They are saying as women in business we need support from our Government,” she said. — @okazunga.