Financial independence is not only a source of confidence but also gives women the credibility to participate in decision making for themselves and their families.
This was the message that Mmabogoshi Msiza, Chairperson of the Limpopo branch of the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (Bwasa) had for woman entrepreneurs that attended the branch’s first women entrepreneurship development session in the city on Thursday.
Representatives of Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (Ledet) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) were present to give input and advise woman entrepreneurs.
Msiza said Ledet is a leader in the women empowerment environment, continuously striving to create a conducive environment for women entrepreneurs to succeed. “Seda’s mandate is to support and promote the development of small enterprises for growth and sustainability,” Msiza explained.
“Our province is a treasure trove and other provinces may think that we have run out of steam. There are sectors that have been identified as having high growth potential and are fully supported by government. Some of those sectors remain untapped and as women entrepreneurs we need to poise ourselves towards investing in such business,” Msiza said.
According to Msiza, access to finance for women is still a challenge. “The Financial Sector Charter only specifies gender targets for staffing but is silent on gender equality in terms of financial services outreach, enterprise development and in procurement finance. Financial literacy, poor understanding of financial terminology and lack of awareness of bank and microfinance services are obstacles. A lack of understanding of credit processes and the role of credit bureaus also place women at a disadvantage,” Msiza said, adding that lack of appropriate products like bank services and products, including savings products, are often unaffordable and the emphasis on collateralised and asset based lending disqualifies most women from accessing business loans.
Msiza thanked Bwasa’s media partners for being duty bound to advance gender equality. “Media is a critical and powerful tool that can and should inspire women to break barriers, highlight achievements by women and open the doors for women to take their rightful place in society and their respective communities,” she said.
“Women will still remain marginalised if adequate measures are not taken to redress this,” Msiza reckoned and concluded that financial independence is not only a source of confidence but also gives women the credibility to participate in decision making for themselves and their families.
Story and photos: BARRY VILJOEN