Having received an invitation through PROWEB to attend a course on “Women as SME leaders” I travelled to Langkawi, Malaysia to attend the course which was being hosted by NIEW (Nam Institute for the Empowerment of Women). The course was held from 30th September to 7th October 2012.
This invitation stood out for me, as I am a woman who is currently running a small engineering business in Zimbabwe. I was looking forward to meeting other women in the SME sector and especially to swap ideas on running such businesses. The course was attended by women from Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ghana, Sudan, Iran, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Yemen and Vietnam.
The theme of the course was centred on enabling women entrepreneurs to build businesses that were socially responsible and that incorporated strategies that were environmentally friendly.
Over the week we covered almost all aspects of SME businesses that included the formulation of visions and strategies, financial controls and credit management, corporate governance issues, executing a successful capital raising campaign for business growth, and the incorporation of environmentally responsible strategic frameworks for SME’s.
We had key speakers who were women entrepreneurs giving accounts of their businesses and the challenges that they faced in starting their businesses and while running their businesses.
As part of the course, we were all given an opportunity to pitch for funds for a business idea to Angels Dens representatives. Angels Den is an organisation which links Business Angels and entrepreneurs seeking capital for their businesses.
Out of all the presentations made, my presentation was chosen as the best one and as a result, I have now been offered the opportunity to make a pitch to investors in Hong Kong and in Singapore. This was very exciting for me, and asserted my belief in my business and in my capabilities as an individual.
This course opened my eyes to some of the wonderful things that are being done in the name of Women Empowerment. The Malaysian government has made a lot of funding available to NIEW to run capacity building courses such as the one that I attended. They have also been instrumental in rallying being national policies which state that women taking up at least 30% of the decision making positions in the corporate sector by 2016. They have also spent a lot of time and effort in capacity that women are ready for these positions have spent a lot of time and effort in training women for these opportunities.
I would recommend that the Ministry of Women and gender should also look into providing such opportunities for Zimbabwean women.