The Women in Business Association (WIBA) recently elected a new national executive committee, which saw Nametso Ntsosa-Carr, emerge as the president. BusinessWeek Staff Writer PAULINE DIKUELO chats with the incoming president and interrogates her about her new role and vision for the organisation
BusinessWeek: Congratulations Mrs Nametso Ntsosa-Carr on your new role as WIBA president. What does this position mean to you?
Ntsosa-Carr: For me it means bridging the gap between businesses that are owned by women and the ones owned by their male counterparts, in terms of growth and progression. It also means continual education to the nation concerning challenges that women in business face, challenges they have as business managers as well as household managers. It means using my powerful network to create opportunities for women.
BusinessWeek: How do you see WIBA changing in your term and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Ntsosa-Carr: Change for me is when I leave WIBA with a diverse membership, at the end of my term. I want to see women at the most remote areas of the country make use of WIBA services. I want to see WIBA grow both as a brand and in numbers so as to amplify our voice. There are obviously challenges or barriers that have held us back in the past, and I suppose the first thing will be to work on breaking these barriers. Lack of funding and lack of market access are some of these barriers. My executive team and I will work hard to create funds for the Association and create market access for our members. Bringing education about WIBA and its mandate to the community will also count as a positive change to me.
BusinessWeek: Since the inception of WIBA, do you feel WIBA has addressed challenges that women in business face, and what changes do you have in place to do so?
Ntsosa-Carr: We have seen our former president represent women issues in different forums including Business Botswana and other business stakeholders like LEA and BITC. Collaboration programmes such as Women Entrepreneurial Development (WED) also came in handy to develop women businesses. Through her leadership, WIBA members from different business sectors became members of the respective HLCC, to represent their women counterparts and have easy access to relevant ministers. WIBA has had links with the Department of Gender Affairs to work together in addressing women issues, just to mention a few initiatives.
My team and I will continue where the previous team left off, charting our way forward even as we continue to brainstorm a sound strategic plan that will further address challenges that are already on the table and the ones that may follow.
BusinessWeek: What can you say about the contribution of women in the economy both formal and informal sectors. What more has to be done?
The formal sector on the other hand relies more on diamonds to finance government. We all know that diamond sales will not always be favourable, hence a need to significantly capacitate the informal sector.
BusinessWeek: Do you think the country’s laws and policies are conducive for women in business to succeed?
Ntsosa-Carr: There are programmes already in place to keep watch of women challenges. Gender Affairs has been tasked with the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. They commit to creation of a gender sensitive environment for business women, a gesture that is somewhat celebrated by women. They have a platform to apply for grants, they organise annual expositions. I am confident that WIBA with the assistance of Business Botswana will continue to monitor the favourability of the laws and policies relating to women who are in business.
BusinessWeek: Women were complaining about the threshold of the Gender Affairs Fund. What is your take on this?
Ntsosa-Carr: The issue of threshold attracted some objections to a certain extent, more especially the grouping aspect where people had to go into groups in order to qualify for a certain amount of funding. I would like to commend the ministry to have resolved the issue the way they did. As I speak, one may access the fund as an individual. We also saw CEDA introduce a fund called Mabogo-Dinku targeting the same informal sector of the business. Any further concerns regarding the same will be monitored and addressed with the ministry. I think it is now for us, as WIBA to help government drive the mandate of the funds by maintaining our communication links.
BusinessWeek: What plans do you have to help women in business penetrate the regional market?
Ntsosa-Carr: We are targeting collaborations with regional market representatives for benchmarking purposes, training our members to utilise technology to market their businesses, linkages with already existing schemes like BITC to attend expositions across the region, BOBS and NFTRC to ensure quality products.