Women entrepreneurs have hailed the annual Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender National Women’s Expo for affording them an opportunity to network and give their businesses exposure.
Speaking to this publication during the Expo, Elizabeth Maotwe, owner of Ytt Nursery hailed the expo for affording her an opportunity to meet new clients and build new business networks and relations. “This is my third year of participation in this expo, and though I have a solid customer base, often after the expo, I usually get a lot of calls from people who have met me during the expo, wanting to purchase my trees,” said Maotwe.
Another exhibitor, Account Executive at Inalebe Engraved products &Personalised Gifts, Hafsa Ariess, also said though it’s their first year of participation, the feedback has been positive so far. She said that apart from meeting potential clients they have also linked with other exhibitors who have potential to supply them in the future.
“We have also managed to get orders from high profile clients who were so impressed by the uniqueness and quality of our products,” she said.
Ariess says they hope to get more business from the networking and interactions they have so far been afforded to them by their participation in the exposition.
Meanwhile when officially opening the exposition on Thursday , The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Dorcas Makgato declared that as part of her mission in the ministry she is going to lobby government for more funds.
“As long as I am with the ministry I am going to work so hard to procure funds. I am saying this because this ministry is experiencing a shortage of funds, because as it is I have been given P375 million to run the ministry, P200 millions of which is reserved to pay workers’ salaries and I left with a little over P100 million. what can I do with that,” said Makgato.
She applauded the women entrepreneurs for their innovativeness and will to compete in the global business sphere by venturing in businesses which have never been explored locally before.
“I certainly did not expect to find you manufacturing perfumes and I certainly did not expect us to be importing materials from as far as Ghana and I certainly did not expect to find you talking the government saying let us manufacture our products here. We must also export. Let us empower those industries through our own innovative and creative ways,” she said.
According to Makgato her dream is to in the next two years showcase business women who have graduated from being assisted by government as already affirmed by the significant number of women who are self- sponsored in business and have never benefitted from government grants.
“Businesses which are sustainable are those which are independent and are not necessarily always looking out for government’s assistance,” she said.
Adding that the government of Botswana believes that inclusion development path can be achieved through the expansion of domestic economy while empowering Batswana to participate in development of the country. However noting that she is not oblivious to the inequalities that exist between women and their male counterparts.
The Expo was open to all female entrepreneurs at all levels of business as well as those producing goods for subsistence or consumption. They were afforded an opportunity to interact with the public and appreciate how they can turn their products to earn a living from such.
According to Makgato Botswana as part of the United Nations subscribes to the Sustainable Development Goals; of particular concern to her ministry today being; Goal 5 on the promotion of Gender Equality and Empowerment of all Women and Girls. “Botswana also subscribes to the African Union Agenda 2063 on ‘the Africa we want’ and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development,” she said.
To actualise these important gender instruments, Makgato says the government of Botswana has infused gender in the National Vision 2036 aspiring for Botswana where women and men equally participate in the economic, political and cultural development of the nation.
In addition she says, the National Development Plan 11 also provides for gender mainstreaming under Governance and the prevention and elimination of Gender Based Violence under Safety and Security and that furthermore the National policy on Gender and Development prioritises among others economic development, prosperity and poverty eradication hence the Women’s Exposition.
She pointed out that the Expo is serving its purpose and has had a hand influencing women to think big.