Entrepreneurship training key to women empowerment

By ZBC Reporter
Women in business say entrepreneurship training is a key component of empowerment as many of them do not have the requisite knowledge and exposure to business practices.
Several women have benefitted from Zimbabwe’s edition of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a programme spearheaded by the United States of America.
Speaking to ZBC News at a graduation ceremony in Harare this Friday, the women entrepreneurs were grateful of the empowerment programme.
“Being women we face different challenges in business, and being in this sphere where we could open up about issues that are specific to women in business is important,” said a beneficiary.
“I own a fashion label and run a social enterprise that trains women and children in disadvantaged communities to make fashion and handicrafts AWE has been awesome and helped me reach more networks and understand the business concept because I went into business without formal training,” said another.
“I run a mining company which seeks to digitize the mining sector the programme helped me in putting in place the documents for my business,” said another.
AWE Programme Lead, Irene chikumbo, and facilitator for Manicaland, Loice Kapondo said the programme focuses on basic entrepreneurship skills to help women grow their businesses.
“The Academy for Women entrepreneurs is an initiative supported by the US Department of the state where we are looking to empower women from across the world. It has been piloted in 10 different countries in Africa including Zimbabwe. In total 90 women graduated in this programme and we will be looking to do the next towards the second half of the year. The programme focuses on basic entrepreneurship skills mainly social entrepreneurship working on how you can build your business and help your community at the same time,” said Chikumbo.
“They go through an application process and the advert is flighted and women apply and are selected from the interview process and most of the women have a business that they have been running for a minimum of 6 months and have some traction.”
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellence Brian Nichols says the programme has been running in 26 country’s and 10 being in Africa, as they strive to empower women with the requisite skills to contribute to economic growth.
“The programme has been so successful that we are working at doing a second round with another 100 women later this year. The women who participated in the training this year will receive the opportunity to win 25 thousand dollars in start-up seed money for their businesses a total of $750 000 will be awarded to the top 15 women and use the skills they have learnt to get additional money,” said the ambassador.
Through the academy, 100 participants from Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare aged 18-35 received personalized business mentorship, as well as professional knowledge, tools and networks, to turn their ideas into successful business enterprises.