Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Empowers Female Entrepreneurs

The leading mobile network operator has been praised for its efforts to promote women-owned businesses.

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s leading mobile network operator, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, has been praised for its efforts to support and promote women-owned businesses in the country.

The company has partnered with the Women-Owned Business Trust (WOBT), a non-profit organization that aims to help women entrepreneurs access capital, markets, skills, and technology.

Through this partnership, Econet has increased its procurement expenditure on women-owned businesses, doubling it from 2.5% to over 5% ahead of its target for the year.

The company has also hosted a “Meet-the-Buyer” breakfast meeting, where over 100 female entrepreneurs had the opportunity to network with Econet’s procurement managers and learn about the company’s requirements and standards.

A milestone for women’s economic empowerment

The chairperson of the Women Alliance of Business Associations in Zimbabwe (WABAZ), Irene Mukarakate, commended Econet for its inclusive procurement policies that empower women.

“I would like to commend Econet for coming on board and for seeing the need for inclusive procurement policies that empower women. In recognition of what the women in business are doing, corporates must (emulate Econet) and build relationships with women-owned businesses, and women’s business organizations,” Mukarakate said.

She encouraged women to venture into business, highlighting its potential to enhance market availability, especially in times of global challenges. She stressed that the growth of women’s businesses plays a crucial role in building resilience and contributing to national development.

The chairperson of the WOBT and Securico Security founder, Dr Divine Ndhlukula, lauded Econet for providing a tailored program to provide the necessary support for women entrepreneurs to help them succeed in today’s global market.

“We have an opportunity to work with one of Zimbabwe’s economic giants as their (procurement) spending is huge, with a commitment of 5% for year 1, 10% for year 2, and 15% in year 3. The (projected) figure runs into over US$30 million going into women’s business,” she said.

“What is the impact of this? Zimbabwe is empowered. Investing in women builds stronger nations – when females earn income, they reinvest 90% of their incomes in their families and communities, leading to faster local development of communities. However, we need to be cognizant of the need to ensure we supply quality goods and services to our customers,” Dr. Ndhukula said.

A model for other sectors and countries

The partnership between Econet and WOBT is not only beneficial for the women entrepreneurs and the company but also for the wider society and economy.

According to the World Bank, increasing women’s participation in the labor force and entrepreneurship can boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve social outcomes.

The World Bank also estimates that closing the gender gap in business ownership could increase the global GDP by 6%.

Econet’s initiative is therefore a model for other sectors and countries to follow, as it demonstrates how private sector actors can play a vital role in advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

By creating a more inclusive and diverse business environment, Econet is not only fulfilling its social responsibility but also enhancing its competitiveness and innovation.

As the world faces unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the 21st century, Econet is showing that investing in women is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do.

Source: New Zimbabwe


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