The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has introduced a digital networking platform called “50 Million African Women Speak” to enable women entrepreneurs to network and share business ideas for purposes of enhancing their financial inclusion.
Addressing the media in Harare today, COMESA Director for Gender and Social Services, Beatrice Hamusonde bemoaned barriers that inhibit women from developing and expanding their businesses adding that the new digital networking platform will help in addressing some of the challenges including networking and peer guidance.
“Women entrepreneurs have the passion to develop and expand their businesses. However, they continue to face gender-specific barriers such as limited access to information and networking opportunities, lower levels of education and business training, weak property rights that deprive them of collateral and tangible assets, and social barriers that discourage them from thriving as entrepreneurs,” she said.
Hamusonde added that women entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe and the region will use the platform to access information and linkages to business services, training and market opportunities.
The Platform is unique and will build a community of existing and potential women entrepreneurs who will act as peers, mentors and advisers to each other.
This social network will also allow women to share lessons, success stories as well as conduct business online, while providing an interface with financial service providers thus promoting easy access to financial services.
“You will agree with me that for the platform to be useful, especially by the targeted users, it should have locally generated, relevant, timely and user-friendly content.This cannot happen without the involvement of various stakeholders at national and local level to provide content, locally generated content is critical to the success of the platform,” added Hamusonde.