According to a new survey, the majority of female entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe have a negative perception on obtaining credit from financial institutions. It asked women in business in 10 cities, namely Harare, Kadoma, Marondera, Gweru, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Gwanda, Lupane, Bindura and Mutare and found that 34% of the female entrepreneurs who undertook the survey consider obtaining credit from commercial banks as “very difficult.” Thirty-one percent of the respondents also perceive obtaining credit from micro-credit institutions as very difficult.
However, the study reveals that the majority of the respondents (at 59%) were largely unaware of both private and public sector programs that fund women entrepreneurs. The majority (63,5%) of the women surveyed were also not members of any business forums, chambers of commerce or non-governmental organizations. These types of programs can really help women in business to engage both the Government and the private sector on challenges facing them. ”There should be an aggressive information campaign so that the resources do not end up benefiting the few with information and the right connections,” said Dr. Charity Manyeruke of the Women Alliance of Business Associations in Zimbabwe. She said that the Government should increase both allocations for gender mainstreaming and the accompanying publicity campaigns. Nearly 66% of women entrepreneurs indicated that they had felt discriminated against by bank officials.
Women’s business programs and women being aware of these types of programs are extremely vital considering the demand for finance from women entrepreneurs in Africa amounted to $19 billion, according to a recent study from the African Development Bank. A huge opportunity is being missed for financial institutions to make money, and for African economies to create jobs from dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises. But similar to the situation with female entrepreneurs in the U.S., women entrepreneurs in Africa are underfunded. Even in countries reporting an increase ranging from 10% to 30% over the last decade in the number of women-run enterprises (such as South Africa, Zambia, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ethiopia), these firms receive on average less than 10% of all capital invested. In Uganda, women own about 40% of businesses with registered premises but only receive about 9% of commercial credit.
Helping women become entrepreneurs is especially important as if they have to depend on men for everything, they will be forced into horrible situations, like prostitution (which also contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS), in order just to get food. But if women and girls were empowered to take care of themselves through microenterprises, they would be less likely to be in those types of situations and would help the economy at the same time.
Photo: Lucian Coman/Shutterstock.com