World Bank ranks Zambian women led SMEs among top 10 in Africa

 World Bank ranks Zambian women led SMEs among top 10 in Africa

The World Bank has listed Zambia among the top ten African countries in the Global Entrepreneurship Index along the likes of Botswana, E-Swatini, Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa.

And in a report by the World Bank Africa Group One Constituency Executive Director, Zambia has also been placed in the top ten tier in real GDP growth rates recorded in 2018.

Meanwhile, the World Bank Report on unlocking the potential of women’s businesses in Africa, indicates that through initiatives such as the US$ 340 million Women Entrepreneurs Initiative [We-Fi] launched by the World Bank in 2018 will eliminate barriers faced by women in starting-up and growing successful Small and Medium Enterprises [SME’s].

The entrepreneurship report was commissioned by the World Bank Vice President for the African Region Hafez Ghanem and his counterpart, World Bank Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, Pazarbasioglu Ceyla.

In a joint foreword, Mr Ghanem and Ms Ceyla said the report, whose title is “Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women’s Businesses in Africa,”seeks to focus attention on the challenges that women entrepreneurs face and identify practical solutions to those challenges.

The duo expressed hope that the findings in the entrepreneurship report will drive policy and programme action towards ensuring that women begin to fully access the benefits of improved business opportunities.

The report also seeks to operationalise the findings through policy dialogue and programme design in collaboration with all stakeholders.

The entrepreneurship report circulated at the on-going Spring Meetings being attended by Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe, Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme, Secretary to the Treasury Freedom Yamba, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Christopher Mvunga, Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary for Economic Management Mukuli Chikuba, Ministry of National Development Planning Permanent Secretary Chola Chabala and Bank of Zambia Governor Dr Denny Kalyalya reveals that out of 716 enterprises observed in Zambia, 435 were women led.

The report has also ranked Zambia as one of the top seven (7) destinations in sub-Saharan Africa for female majority owned businesses which have employees ranging from one-hundred to five-hundred. The report further ranked Zambia as one of the top three (3) in sub-Saharan Africa, for female majority owned businesses with employees ranging from one to ten. In addition, the report classified the country as one of the top six (6) for majority female participation in the formal economy.

Commenting on the revelations, Ms Mwanakatwe declared that Zambia is full of promise and on course in its quest to become a prosperous middle-income country by 2030.

The Minister stated that the indicators listed in the entrepreneurship report are important affirmations that the Government policies on engendering development policies and women empowerment are changing lives and increasing opportunities for income generation among women.

She expressed hope that by addressing the difficulties women entrepreneurs face in the country, the potential of women’s businesses to become a major driver of economic growth and poverty reduction, will be unlocked.

The Minister stated that in addition to the opportunities offered by development partners, Zambia needed to aggressively leverage private sector capital to meet its developmental needs without leaving anyone behind.

This, she said, could be done by focusing on job creation, women empowerment, and deep-vein poverty reduction interventions.

Meanwhile according to the World Bank Africa Group One Constituency Report circulated at the 18th Statutory Constituency Meeting attended by Minister Mwanakatwe and Minister Chiteme at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, Zambia’s GDP growth rate of 3.7 percent for 2018 was 2.4 percentage points better than the average growth rate of 1.3 percent for Latin-America and Caribbean; 1.4 percentage better than the 2.3 percent average growth in advanced economies; 1.3 percentage points better than the 2.4 percent average growth for Middle-East and North Africa; and, 0.3 percentage points better than the Sub-Saharan average of 3.4 percent.

Further, the constituency report indicated that Zambia’s growth rate was at par with the end 2018 global growth of 3.7 percent, respectively.

However, Zambia’s growth rate for 2018 trailed that of Asian-Emerging Economies by 2.6 percent.

“This shows that in the grand scheme of things, Zambia is on the right trajectory although efforts targeted at ensuring that our youths have jobs, women are empowered, and families have their basic needs, should be strengthened,” said the Minister of Finance after reading the report.

The constituency report, therefore, confirms Zambia as having one of the best performing economies not only in the SADC Region, but on the entire African Continent.

And World Bank Africa Group One Constituency Executive Director Mary Kabagambe has said a stronger US Dollar and week investor attraction in emerging markets resulted in the depreciation of currencies in the Constituency.

Further, Ms Kabagambe has projected that growth in Sub-Saharan Africa will average 3.8% in 2019 and is expected to continue expanding over the medium term due to fixed capital formation and firm consumption spending.

*Mwanakatwe assures investors*

Addressing elite investors on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings, Mrs. Mwanakatwe assured the delegates who were drawn from America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle-East that Zambia is firmly committed to the sustainability of a stable enabling environment for local, foreign and blended investments.

She invited the audience to explore the prospects in energy development, the agriculture value chain, tourism, and import substitution through development of industrial parks.

“These are some of the key areas of our investment focus as they have substantial rates of return for both the country and investors,” she said, and added that, “Zambia’s location at the center of eight neighbouring countries places it a notch above the rest in the development of regional transport and logistics hubs.”

The Minister shared her optimism about the Government’s growth forecast of around 4 percent, inflation target of between 6 to 8 percent, budget deficit of less than 7 percent, fiscal adjustment, strengthened financial discipline and transparency.

She also assured the investors that the country was on course in the implementation of the medium term debt strategy and that any future borrowing will be focused on highly concessional facilities.

The over fifty (50) delegates at the investor forum were drawn from over twenty (20) institutional investment houses at an event held at JW Marriott Metro Station Hotel, Washington, DC, USA.

Among the issues presented to investors by the Minister was debt management, fiscal consolidation, tax reforms, domestic resource mobilization, and monetary policy.

This is according to the media statement by Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta.

The Independent Observer

John Sakala is a Journalist yearning for independent journalism

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