Women entrepreneurs encouraged to seize export opportunities

The Chronicle

Nozipho Maphala
The value of empowering women and increasing their participation in economic activities cannot be overestimated on the production of added value and the penetration of new markets.

Zimbabwe’s import bill from South Africa was US $ 248 billion in 2020, of which US $ 214 million largely, electric power US $ 110 million and soybean oil US $ 69 million.

Zimbabwean manufactured products enjoy preferential treatment in terms of tariffs on eligible products, as South Africa is a member of the SADC Trade Agreement and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) .

These trade agreements are essential to reduce the duties to be paid, which makes it possible to obtain competitive prices.
Currently, several Zimbabwean companies supply other provinces such as Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape while there is little presence in Limpopo province.

There have been considerable developments in the global business landscape in this regard in recent years, which has seen more women start and own businesses.

However, there are still many opportunities to ensure that women-led businesses are more involved in international trade.

Sectors such as food manufacturing and processing, horticulture, engineering services and furnishings are currently underserved by female entrepreneurs and therefore present good opportunities for those wishing to embark on exporting.

Given its proximity to the country, ZimTrade’s market research has identified huge opportunities for Zimbabwean products, which can take advantage of their high quality to enter the Limpopo market.

It is generally accepted that all over the world, female-led exporting SMEs tend to employ more people, pay more, and be more productive than similar male-owned businesses.

Despite this, a survey conducted by the International Trade Center in 20 developing countries found that only 20 percent of private exporting companies are owned by women (ITC, 2015).

A number of barriers to export trade are usually highlighted by women entrepreneurs, one of which is that there are many administrative barriers that include rules, regulations and legal requirements.

As the country’s trade development and promotion organization, ZimTrade has worked with various government agencies and privileged partners to help women-led businesses with an international focus equip them with knowledge of export related documentation. .

Access to markets and market information is another barrier that deters women entrepreneurs from venturing into export markets.

Most women-led SMEs often do not have access to detailed and timely market information that can guide them on available markets for their goods and services.

In fulfilling its mandate of growing Zimbabwe’s exports, ZimTrade’s service portfolio includes disseminating market information to existing, new and potential exporters.

New and potential female exporting entrepreneurs are encouraged to seek reliable information on products and services with potential in order to take advantage of available opportunities.

In addition, most women-owned businesses face financing challenges that prevent them from actively engaging in export activities. Access to affordable finance is essential for export growth across the world and especially for Zimbabwe as the country seeks to increase its exports and expand its footprint across the world.

According to the World Trade Organization, up to 80 percent of world trade is supported by some kind of finance or credit insurance and it is estimated at around $ 10 trillion per year.

Trade finance supports the flow of credit through various supply chains and typically helps businesses manage their cash flow for international payments, the associated risks, and provide the working capital necessary for trade.

According to RBZ, only about 3.78% of total Zimbabwean bank loans and advances go to the SME sector, where most of the businesses run by women are located.

In addition, conventional financing options often require collateral, making it difficult for young people to obtain financing. To address these issues, financial institutions should have suitable financing facilities for youth-led SMEs to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses that can help grow the economy and boost exports.

In addition, most women entrepreneurs are skeptical of export markets for fear of infringement of their intellectual property. This is generally true for people working in the IT, fashion, and arts and crafts industries, leading them to choose to produce only for the local market.

In recent years, local and international laws have been enacted to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals and businesses, and organizations such as ARIPO in providing legal protection assistance required by exporters when they enter foreign markets.

In helping to protect the rights of exporters, ZimTrade regularly hosts export awareness seminars that include presentations on intellectual property rights to ensure that exporters have the information that will ensure their efforts are backed up.

As the New Year approaches, it’s time for businesswomen to take a deliberate stance in pushing their businesses international milestones by exporting their products and services around the world. – From the ZimTrade newsletter.

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