By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – Women have been proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are strongholds of society as seen by their nurturing forte in the upkeep of their families, and their interaction at community level. They have been renowned for their survival strategies even in the most difficult situations where one could easily succumb to defeat. With resilience traced way back, where they would walk long miles in search of water, food and wood in order to cook and feed their families, they remain a force of sustainability even today, albeit some modern developments.

As the world grows in one voice to uplift women, they are encouraged to go into business spaces with dedicated effort. The outgoing CEO of BAM Group who remains President of BAM Group Foundation, and incoming Deputy Programme Manager – Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility under CAFI Project, Mamashiya Nts’epeng Ts’ita-Tikiso declared one can definitely recognise where there is presence of women because everything they put their mind and hearts to, has great potential of blossoming. However when it comes to the business side, she said Basotho women seemingly refuse to grow and expose their full potential due to allowing cultural norms and societal gender roles to become their barriers to growth.

“There is still a strong belief that women should focus on ‘unpaid’ care-work, taking the back seat against their male counterparts poised for leadership roles and senior positions. That is the stereotype which we as women have to try and fight against, by showing that we are all capable human beings. We need to reflect deeply on our upbringing and how it translates into how we raise our children. What do we say to our girl child, and what we say to our boy child? What roles do we give them?” she asked.

Notwithstanding that economic growth and opportunities must be for everyone including the boy child and men, we need to create spaces that encourage the girl child every single day that, ‘you are not just beautiful because you are a girl, but you also have the potential to achieve everything that you want to achieve in life’. Trust me, this is how our parents raised us. Your children believe so much in the words that come from you as a parent, than anyone else and if you do not take the opportunity to reinforce their belief in themselves, someone will fill that space. She urged therefore that to reach the desired destination, girls should be empowered and women should find the right resources so that they can put their creative ideas into action. All these she said are the foundation of success before leaping into the actual business, which is her dedication and focus today.

In terms of business, she declared some people struggle to succeed because they do not respect their businesses. “I am saying this because when you raise a child, you do not raise them so that you would have to continue feeding them even when they are grown up. Instead you will do all you can to ensure that they become independent – you will patiently and lovingly teach them how to walk, and marvel as they confidently explore their capabilities. The same applies to business. However, she cautioned that with women gifted in multitasking, the risk to become overprotective and decide to do everything themselves exists, which is a killer in business. They tend not to free themselves and delegate so that they as owners have enough time to explore other avenues and seek other ways of advancing their businesses so as to progress.

She further advised women to consistently review their processes in order to adapt to changes. It is also necessary to document all the business dealings as well as the procedures, guidelines and regulations so as to ensure that the business is conducted in a secure and sustainable manner for it to grow. “Do you position your business in a way that it is scalable and can grow, what are the values? The same way you worry about your kids should be the similar concern for your business”, she said.

She emphasized that the one of the main hindrances to businesses growth is the inability to manage resources appropriately, more especially finances. “You have to respect your business and the money you get from it” she said. She further encouraged women to have good banking history as this would grant them a better chance of seeking financial assistance, such as loans and grants should they want to expand their businesses.

She mentioned another challenge she discovered, which hinders businesses from blossoming as women entrepreneurs who are hesitant to share business knowledge because they assume their employees or industry partners will steal their ideas, which she believes would not be the case because it is the owner who has a clear vision for their business. They struggle to be open minded enough to let other people take the implementation ropes so that they as owners can focus on business policy for growth.

She therefore encourages everyone to step out of their shells, be creative, collaborative and open-minded to opportunities accessible in the country, and network to attain business growth!