The 2023 Women in Enterprise Conference and Awards (WECA) was held on 29 September 2023 at the Zimbali Events and Lifestyle Centre. The event was attended by individuals and entrepreneurs from organizations emerging from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Embassies, Development Partners, and the private sector from various sectors such as ICT, financial services, education, construction, retail and wholesale, and manufacturing, among others. The Chamber was celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Women’s Desk which was established in 2013.
Resolutions emanating from the Conference deliberations are presented as part of the ZNCC Women’s Desk’s lobbying and advocacy, input into policy formulation and implementation to enhance business viability and foster accelerated women-owned business growth. WECA 2023 was running under the theme: Transforming Economic Realities into Market Opportunities, which is the Chamber’s theme for the 2023 Calendar Year.
The Director of Ceremonies, Tutsirai Jenje, welcomed esteemed delegates to the 10th Anniversary of the Women in Enterprise Conference and Awards (WECA). The esteemed delegates included the following, among others:
· The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon. Dr. Sithembiso G. G. Nyoni;
· The Deputy Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, Her Excellency, Mrs. Eva van Woersem; and
· The Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia to Zimbabwe; Her Excellency, Ms. Zemha Z. Gawachas
The welcoming was followed by the national anthem and prayer. In her works, Ms. Jenje highlighted that it was of vital importance that women entrepreneurs gather to share ideas and market insights to elevate their crafts in various areas. She then invited Mrs. Lucy Marowa to give welcome remarks.
Welcome Remarks: Mrs Lucy Marowa – Women’s Desk Chairperson & CEO, National Blood Services Zim.
Mrs L. Marowa gave a background on ZNCC and the Women in Enterprise Conference and Awards which is a brainchild of the Women’s Desk. She highlighted that the Women’s Desk seeks to build entrepreneurship ecosystems that support women-owned MSMEs at all stages of development and across all sectors, including rural areas, and provide mechanisms to ensure that women benefit from access to finance. Further, she reported that the ZNCC Women’s Desk was established in 2013, after the realization that women were not taking part in mainstream business member organizations.
Thus, the main objective of the Women’s Desk (WD) is to help women create or scale up their businesses and to assist women to grow in their chosen professions. The Women’s Desk is focused, on adding value to the Chamber’s mandate, by ensuring that the business potential of women entrepreneurs is unleashed through various initiatives. According to Mrs. L. Marowa, the 10th Anniversary of WECA was a special occasion for those who are affiliated with the Chamber and the Women’s Desk, and the lineup of topics was in line with such a high-level gathering which allows women to express their views on issues pertaining to women entrepreneurship. In this regard, she called all women to be part of Vision 2030 and enhance their significant contribution to the growth and prosperity of Zimbabwe.
The 2023 WECA came at a time when the Chamber, in partnership with UNDP Zimbabwe, was conducting Training Workshops for women entrepreneurs in various cities in Zimbabwe. By then, two Training Workshops had been successfully conducted in Chinhoyi and Masvingo. The Training was being administered through the ZNCC Training School which aims to empower the Zimbabwean business community through capacity building and skills enhancement initiatives and business linkages.
Guest of Honour’s Remarks: Hon. Dr. Sithembiso G. G. Nyoni – Minister of Industry and Commerce
In line with the theme: Transforming Economic Realities into Market Opportunities, Hon. S. G. G. Nyoni emphasized the need to change the mindset from perceiving challenges as stumbling blocks but opportunities. The Minister further emphasized that in pursuit of Vision 2030, the advancement of women in business is not only key to addressing gender imbalances but also key to the sustainable transformation of the economy. Accordingly, the Government of Zimbabwe has been implementing quite a number of initiatives in partnership with developmental organizations and the private sector.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce stressed that she would not want to hear anyone talking about challenges, but opportunities. Whatever problem it may be, it can be turned into an opportunity. Women were urged to rise up to the occasion and compete in any sector because whatever economic or social activity that a man could do, a woman could do also. The government requires assistance from the players within the industry as opposed to just talking about challenges. Thus, she invited the women entrepreneurs to partner with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in the implementation of sustainable and transformative programmes towards attaining Vision 2030.
She then expressed sincere gratitude to ZNCC for spearheading Workshops for women entrepreneurs and on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland West, and Matabeleland North provinces. Accordingly, the Conference presented all participants with a chance to learn from each other and empower one another. The Government was said to be continuing with its efforts and reforms for a business-friendly operating environment and on AfCFTA, she reported that it was fundamental that women work towards increasing their exports into the continent. The event was officially opened.