LOCAL financial institution First Capital Bank, formerly Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, ran an expo at the weekend to promote women’s small-to-medium enterprises agenda, saying it will continue to empower women entrepreneurs in the country.
While the bank has been promoting women entrepreneurs through its Hustlepreneur platform on Facebook since 2017, it had not yet organised a physical expo to bring them together to discuss business ideas and network, while encouraging new businesspersons to emerge.
Speaking to The NewsHawks on the sidelines of the expo held at First Capital Bank Sports Club in Harare on Saturday, First Capital head of marketing and communications Emily Nemaware (pictured) said the new platform will help encourage more women to start their own businesses, thus promoting financial independence.
The event featured three hustlepreneurs, Chiedza Mhosva, an award-winning Inuka distributor and Inuka Team Leader, Claris Shava, founder and operations director Care Angels, and Bertha Muyambo, founder and chief executive of B&M Cleaning and Packaging Services.
Nemaware said: “We are really excited about the expo. Even after the five years, we asked ourselves how we could get all these women all under one roof since we have over 22 000 women online. We said what if we have an event where we can bring them together, not only for networking purposes, but also from a buying and a purchasing point of view.
“And, also having discussions where women will then have to grow their businesses, while encouraging those who have not yet started to hear and be inspired by success stories of others. We have a lot of women in Zimbabwe, which is predominantly the number of women whom we have on our platform, but we also have women in South Africa, in fact Southern African countries are represented.
“We also have got a lot of women in the diaspora — in the United Kingdom, in the Americas and all over the world. First Capital Bank was eager to bring all these women on one platform where we discuss business issues for women, about women and by women.”
Nemaware said while First Capital has been capacitating women-led start-ups, the bank is seeking to help them formalise their operations to increase their contribution to the national economy.
“Our mandate was simple: ‘Walk with the entrepreneur till they are formalised — when their hustle becomes a business’. Today we have a network of over 22 000 strong women that are giving their best to their businesses daily. The businesses vary from construction to catering to health care and so on,” she said.
“You may ask why we focus on SME development through our deliberate operational strategy; it’s because small and medium enterprises play a crucial role in the economy of Zimbabwe. They contribute to employment generation as they are significant employers, providing job opportunities for a substantial portion of the population.”
Nemaware said her organisation is keen on working with entrepreneurs as they stimulate innovation, thereby driving competition in the market.
She said SMEs also enable individuals and families to generate income, improve their living standards, and contribute to economic development.
“They diversify the economy by operating in various sectors, reducing the country’s reliance on a few dominant industries. They often have linkages with larger enterprises, acting as suppliers or service providers. This interdependence promotes collaboration and supports the growth of both SMEs and larger businesses,” she said.
“They play a vital role in promoting exports and foreign exchange earnings for the country, contributing to a favourable balance of trade. All the above are clear evidence of the importance of every SME within the country. To support the SMEs, we have a dedicated department that has presence at each of our branches countrywide.”