First Lady Monica Chakwera has stressed the need for women to be equipped with necessary resources, skills and opportunities to start and grow their businesses to improve the country’s economy.
Speaking during the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Federation of Women in Business (Comfwb) regional conference gala night in Lilongwe on Friday, the First Lady said empowering women in business will have spillover effects for African regional trade blocs to achieve economic integration agenda, which is currently being promoted.
To achieve progress, Chakwera said there is need to address challenges such as limited knowledge and skills in the context of increased market linkages through information and communication technology and limited access to finance because of the burdensome conditions set by the financial sector on obtaining loans.
She said: “I am pleased to note the establishment of Women Investment Cooperative [Winco] and its vision to establish a women’s bank in Malawi.
“This is a cause I am keen and willing to render my support to ensure its success.”
On his part, Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe pledged that his ministry will continue working with other ministries, departments and agencies to resolve the bottlenecks hampering progress of businesses operated by women and youths.
“To show our commitment towards supporting women programmes, early next year my ministry will be launching the Comesa 50 Million African Women Speak Programme,” he said.
Comfwb Malawi Chapter chairperson Barbara Banda said the three billion population in Africa provides a ready market for food-related products; hence, Malawi as an agrarian economy should tap into the market opportunities.
On her part, Winco chief executive officer Towela Jalakasi commened the First Lady for committing to support women in establishing a women commercial bank to solve access to finance challenges.