Women are naturally kind-hearted and they will do anything to uplift their family income and status hence their involvement in different businesses.
But it is not easy for a woman, especially in Malawi to be involved in a successful business venture which is mostly dominated by men.
Most women do not t give up and venture into different businesses to supplement family income or indeed take care of the whole family.
The problem has been the source of funds and business skills to successfully run major and profitable businesses.
Do the women go and join ‘Banki Nkhonde’ or Village Banking to boost their ‘capital’ for their businesses? What about the risk of some defaulters? Will this not affect the smooth running of the business?
National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc has solutions for all women entrepreneurs in the country.
Last week it convened the first ever Women Entrepreneurs Workshop in Lilongwe where the main aim was to assure the women of the strong partnership with National Bank in providing them with both financing for their business needs as well as equipping them with business management skills.
The Bank would like to encourage and motivate women to start believing in themselves and take up the front row in businesses.
NBM is well aware that some women shun the banks because banks are viewed to be too demanding in their requirements, more complex and difficult.
But the interaction function gave the women a chance to change their perception about this notion and appreciate the fact that banking operations are friendly and easy.
For the past two years, the Bank has been meeting and interacting with various customers especially SMEs to share information and new developments in NBM and in turn to receive feedback from them on its services. The bank went further to provide business management clinics in order to equip them with business management skills.
But experiences of these functions made NBM to take a different approach by holding similar interactions but exclusively for women entrepreneurs.
The past experience of the functions showed that although the invitations went to as many ladies as men, the attendance of ladies was very much subdued. Fewer ladies attended and in addition the men dominated the discussions and the Bank identified this as a gap that needed to be filled hence the first ever Women Entrepreneurs Workshop.
The Women entrepreneurs were given freedom to engage and express themselves without the hindrance of men.
NBM Head of Personal and Business Banking Oswin Kasunda admitted at the Workshop that between men and women, the best performing customers for the bank are women.
“You will also be pleased to know that as a Bank our best performing customers are ladies. Very few lady entrepreneurs default on their obligations. And in most cases the defaulting is not deliberate and they will endeavor to inform the Bank on the reasons why they cannot meet their obligations on time and offer alternative ways out. So we find lady entrepreneurs honest and better at servicing facilities,” said Kasunda.
The bank has noted that businesses in Malawi and even the world at large are dominated by men and NBM would like to play a part to woo and encourage as many ladies as possible to take up a business career.
“We would like to take them away from village banks, Saccos, bank m’khonde chipereganyu and the like into the main stream banking,” declared Kasunda.
The Bank sees a great market opportunity in the lady entrepreneurship. The market is unsaturated and banks are softer on the ladies but ladies themselves are not very good at taking huge business risks. They are risk averse, they shy away from accessing credit facilities from the Bank, others do not even want to route their deposits through the Bank, challenges that NBM is trying to address through the Women Entrepreneurship Workshops.
The theme of the Lilongwe Women Entrepreneurship Workshop was ‘Empowering Lady Entrepreneurship through collaborative partnership’ and the bank is planning on conducting similar workshops in Blantyre and Mzuzu soon.