ZimTrade capacitates women-led businesses

By Tatenda Machirori and Nozipho Maphala

“Removing the barriers that keep women and girls on the margins of economic, social, cultural and political life must be a top priority for us all – businesses, governments, the United Nations and civil society.”

This call made in 2015 by former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is a reminder that inclusive economic growth requires creating an enabling environment where both men and women can perform to the best of their abilities.

The voices are becoming much louder and the evidence is clear that empowering women economically will improve the livelihoods of people and contribute to poverty reduction with unprecedented margins.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) notes that women play a major role in the global economy because they “invest more in their families than men do, in areas such as education, health and nutrition, creating a secure foundation for the future of their families and communities.”

Considering this contribution, ITC concludes that “empowering women economically, especially through their involvement in trade, creates job opportunities for everyone.”

This is true for Africa where women reportedly make up most players in African trade through buying and selling of various products across sectors and borders and through the delivery of services that support economies.

The participation of women in critical economic activities, export business included, is thus crucial for the development of African economies.

As Africa inches closer towards full economic integration, with trading under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area underway, the focus is now on ensuring that women are empowered enough to play their role more effectively in growing trade.

What is important going forward is ensuring that actual opportunities are made available to women, particularly around economic areas such as production, manufacturing, and value-addition. 

Launched in March 2022 at a grand event befitting of celebrating women in business, the aptly named program: NEXT She Exporter, is a first of its kind export development program targeted at identifying women in business and developing them to meet the demands of trade in export products and services.

The programme is targeted at businesses that wholly female owned, or women hold at least 51 percent shares of the business.

Following a call for expression of interest to participate in the programme, the selection process for women-business who will embark on the year-long programme has been concluded and the initial training sessions started in the last week of June.

The selection was based on enterprises with potential to export, are environmentally friendly, and socially responsible businesses with an enterprise model that demonstrates a unique comparative advantage.

ZimTrade is confident that this program will power the next generation of seasoned business women who will contribute to economic development through improved productivity, and that it will set the blueprint for many similar programs in future, determined to ultimately increase Zimbabwe’s exports.

The key objective of this program is to provide female entrepreneurs with relevant market information and develop their export awareness.

Running from May 2022 to March 2023, the NEXT She Exporter program will assist female led enterprises to build their export capacity through training, technical interventions, and mentorship.

This unique export development program leverages the benefits of various types of knowledge sharing formats in building capabilities of local women in business.

One of the biggest hurdles faced by women in exports is access to markets, and the program intends on increasing market linkages and networking opportunities for women and, to stimulate community-based growth through entrepreneurship development across the country.

The other important aspect of the NEXT She Exporter program lies in its inclusivity and in its ability to cater for the needs for various women entrepreneurs through different teaching and learning styles.

It is set to cater for all sectors with the exception of mining, fuels and electricity and has a special focus on services as a means to increasing the number of women in the exportation of services.

One-on-one mentorship with seasoned female business leaders will play a critical part in shaping the character of the NEXT She-Exporter, as each woman will be paired with a dedicated mentor who will build their ability to run export businesses through personal engagements and sessions.

Mentors are drawn from across sectors and have demonstrated business leadership, are well connected with a wide business network and have a strong desire to nurture others for greater social impact.

In addition to the mentorship, the NEXT She Exporter will include technical interventions from local and international experts; who will conduct thorough in-depth technical analysis and help entrepreneurs determine best practices in achieving technical and operational efficiency in their businesses, with a biased focus on meeting export market standards. To help in the assimilation of ideas and in sparking innovation, participating entrepreneurs will also take part in exchange programs across provinces on a regular basis.



188 Sam Nujoma Street Avondale Harare, Zimbabwe

Tel: 263-4 369330-41, 263-867700074

E-mail: info@zimtrade.co.zw


48 Josiah Tongogara Street Btwn 3rd and 4th Avenue Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Tel: 263-9 66151, 62378, 263-8677000378

E-mail: info@zimtrade.co.zw

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