Different speakers at the inaugural Women in Business Excellence Awards (WIBA) said women’s participation in economic development has been significant as they form 60 percent of the informal business sector.
The awards, which were held last Sunday under the theme, ‘Women united in business’, aim to promote WIBA’s mandate of developing women and also to reward members who have taken noteworthy initiatives.
The awards also aim to encourage competitive women-led businesses whose existence strives on excellence to fully penetrate not only the local market, but also regional and international markets.
When delivering her keynote address, Botswana Life Chief Executive Officer Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele said the future of the country lies in the Small, Medium and Macro Enterprises (SMME) sector, urging women entrepreneurs to be courageous and remain focused.
“The effective participation and contribution of women in Botswana has been witnessed as women constitute about 52 percent of our population and form over 60 percent of the informal sector business,” she said.
Lesetedi-Letegele urged women to expand their businesses into sectors that generate profits and exports into the regional market.
Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Sadique Kebonang said the awards marked a milestone in their continued efforts to promote women’s economic integration into the trade sphere.
Kebonang also said as part of effort to empower women, government has adopted the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy, which provides for 30 percent of government purchases from women and 15 percent from the youth and people living with disability respectively.
“We have seen in the past two years women being awarded government tenders to provide school uniforms, bread, peanut butter and jam to primary and secondary schools and some mines,” he said.
Engen Lobatse walked away with an award under the collaborative category and Mary Israel of Mary’s Nurseries won the Informal sector award.
One Modisane of Young Chefs Academy walked away with the innovation award and young entrepreneur award, while Susan’s Farm walked away with the social entrepreneur of the year award.
The businesswoman of the year award, which was sponsored by Stanbic Bank at a tune of P50, 000, was won by Sprint Courier’s duo Pinkie Setlalekgosi and Michelle Gabriel. Air Botswana also gave them tickets to any of the airline’s destinations while Debswana gave them P50 000,00 worth of jewellery.
All winners except the businesswoman of the year award, walked away with P10 000,00 cash, trophies and one year insurance cover from Zurich Insurance firm. Yarona FM also sponsored the young entrepreneur award with P150 000 cash and airtime.
According to the International Centre for Research, women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn only 10 percent income and own one to two percent of property.