BOTSWANA: Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Dorcus Makgato says the current methodology used to administer the Department of Gender Affairs Women Fund is not sustainable.
Makgato was challenging business women, most of whom have benefited from the fund to start small income generating activities, that the Ministry is running at a loss considering the amount of money that has been invested so far against return on investment.
For the past two years, the Department has received a budget of P30 million from government finance women businesses.
“We need to have a strong case to advocate for more money, but unfortunately we have a very weak case because the return on investment does not present a compelling argument,” she said, encouraging women to make deliberate decisions to succeed in their business pursuits.
“You have the power within you to become. Beyond being a woman, look at yourself as a human being that happens to be a womnn,” Makgato said.
Makgato, who was addressing women entrepreneurs at the official opening of the 19th National Women’s Exposition hosted by Gender Affairs Department, further said it is time that women businesses make an impact in society by helping create employment and diversify the economy.
“Look at areas where others have not been to and take advantage of that. Just because you are women you should not all sell airtime by the roadside. Challenge yourselves to go into unchartered territories,” Makgato said.
Makgato strongly advised women against starting businesses just to benefit from government tenders. “Tenders are not business, relying on tenders is not sustainable. You need to position your business to run even without government tenders. Make yourself relevant.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Kebonye Moepeng said at the opening that it is important to note that as per the 2011 Population Census; women constitute majority of the population at 51 percent with 55 percent heading households as compared to 45 percent of male-headed households.
“This is why government through our ministry support women to establish formal businesses through capacity building including for registering companies and tendering,” Moepeng said.
She further encouraged women to endeavour to grow their businesses, to ensure proper record keeping where they are able to track their cash flows and determine whether their businesses are making profits or not.
“Let me emphasise that any cash generated by the business should be safely kept in the bank, hence a business bank account is a serious necessity,” Moepeng said.
Moepeng told the businesswomen that it is also important to package their goods and services in an appealing manner that few people will resist. “Use technology such as your phones to market your products,” she said.
She also cautioned women against corrupt practices, encouraging them to ensure they do ‘clean business’ and avoid ‘dirty transactions’. “Remember that any corrupt activity can lend you to prison and this may worsen your situation as women and those that depend on you. Therefore trade openly and fairly,” Moepeng said