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Gov't continues to economically empower women

NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE
Ministers: Dorcus Makgato and Unity Dow
The economic stability of women is key to breaking the poverty cycle, as women are able to independently support their children’s education, which is a key factor to prosperity and success.

The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcus Makgato says to economically empower women, her ministry embarked on two key strategies being; facilitating of funds to resource poor women to start income generating activities and facilitating them to access available markets. 

Speaking at the 19th National Women’s Exposition press briefing on Tuesday, Makgato said women constitute 51% of Botswana’s population with 55% heading households as compared to 45% of male-headed households and therefore remain the key drivers of their economy saying that it was critical that deliberate effort was made to the economy. 

“The economic stability of women is key to breaking the poverty cycle as women are able to independently support their children’s education which is a key factor to prosperity and success. To this end, the Ministry will be hosting the 19th National Women’s Exposition from June 25 till July 1, 2018 at Fairgrounds Holdings, Gaborone,” she said.

The Expo will be held under the theme; ‘Entrepreneurs Development: Key to Transforming Women’s Live’. It is open to all female entrepreneurs at all levels of business as well as those producing goods for subsistence or consumption. Makgato added that it afforded an opportunity with the public and appreciate how they could turn their products to earn a living from such. 

She said the Expo was intended to offer women entrepreneurs, organisations and individuals an opportunity to share experiences, exchange business ideas and skills; provide an opportunity to forge links for partnership with the formal sector and networking among women entrepreneurs and to expose women to products from other regions and areas within the country and also through demonstrations, to

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learn how to produce them thereby diversifying their business using locally available materials and resources. 

The National Women’s Expo was introduced in 1999 with only 70 exhibitors. Makgato said it has since grown to the current 350 exhibitors across the country with 200 in Gaborone and 150 at Francistown. She said even though they prioritise on poor women, they would in future slot in women who are already in the corporate world.

From the P3 000 million that was disbursed for funding women P159million have been used since the inception of this program. About 3.7 individuals are said to have benefited with 124 group businesses where 10% businesses are said to have collapsed due to various reasons. 

A total of 49 women entrepreneurs have graduated, whom the ministry hand held through the Expo for over four years. Those women are said to have independently and confidently battled on their own in the trade arena.

To improve the quality of the Expo, the ministry will for the first time invite women entreprenuers from the SADC region specifically from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. They have been selected based on their various unique products.

For her part, the ministry’s permanent secretary Kebonye Moepeng said the government in recognition of challenges faced by women in accessing credit and other productive resources, established the Women’s Economic Empowerment program, which dates as far as 1998.

She said through that programme, poor women were given seed money to start businesses. She further explained that government through Annual Women’s Exposition assists those women in accessing markets, where they could promote and sell their products.



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