Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) do experience many constraints in their unmatched bid to grow businesses. But for women, it is aggravated by the gender-based obstacles experienced in the commercial sector.
Managing Director of Pelican Lodge and Camping, Kebawetse Masima made this observation at the close of the five-day 3rd edition of the Northern Women’s Exposition held in Francistown recently.
“Difficulty in accessing institutional markets, high interest rates and exploitative loan payment conditions from microfinance institutions are some of the hindrances being experienced by women in business,” lamented Masima.
Masima added that women lack the adequate technical capability, skills and knowledge in varying trades which sometimes result in the production of poor quality products. She said lack of representation in key decision-making organs within the private sector is another issue.
Women also remain disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation, she said. According to Masima, gender discrimination means women often end up insecure, low wage jobs and constitute a small minority of those in senior positions.
“Women perform the bulk of household work and often have little time left to pursue economic opportunities. Throughout the world, gender inequality regarding productive resources is intimately related to women’s poverty and exclusion,” she said.
She added that women entrepreneurs in Botswana are predominately found in traditional micro and small-scale enterprises, although there are growing numbers of businesswomen venturing into diverse and non-traditional enterprises.
“The constraints faced by women are those of any small businessperson, but they are intensified by their additional home and child care responsibilities as well as socio-cultural limitations which limit their ability to access credit and enter into gainful business contracts,” she said.
This factor seriously impedes the business growth of this vibrant constituency being women, lamented the emerging hospitality guru.
It has been noted across the world that women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, both as entrepreneurs and employees if not performing unpaid domestic chores.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs Rose Sennanyana concurred with Masima saying research has shown that women are still burdened with the yoke of performing underpaying employment.
Sennanyana said women take between two to ten hours a day raising children and caring for a sick person as well as the elderly. It is also believed that women take between an hour to four a day selling on the streets, said Sennanyana.