Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Acting Chief Executive better known in the sector as “Mr. Tourism” has urged women to work towards strengthening and growing their entrepreneurial expertise in the tourism sector.
He made the remarks during the Sanganai Hlanganani Capacity Building Workshop For “Women Entrepreneurs in Tourism” held on 14 September 2019 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) grounds in Bulawayo.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries. It is an engine for development, contributing to economic growth, poverty reduction and community development. In Zimbabwe tourism is one of the key economic drivers contributing 7.2% to GDP. The sector is expected to contribute 15% to GDP and generate close to US$2.5 billion in foreign currency receipts by 2025.
“The 2013 National Tourism Policy reinforces tourism as an important pillar for sustainable human development including poverty alleviation, employment generation, environment regeneration and advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups in Zimbabwe.
“As such, Government is paying more attention to the ways in which the benefits of tourism are distributed between men and women. The tourism sector definitely provides various entry points for women’s employment and opportunities for creating self-employment in small and medium sized income generating activities, thus creating paths towards the elimination of poverty in women and local communities,” Mr. Chidzidzi said.
The famous Mr. Tourism said the contribution of women in the business world has increased in recent years, although women are under-represented in management and leadership positions. He said in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, the percentage of women who work in the industry is high, but their function is dominated by unskilled, low-paid jobs.
“Government’s thrust is now to help build the capacity of women so that their emancipation into such higher ranks is actualised at a faster pace. Efforts are also underway to ensure that women participation in tourism income generating activities increases across the board from community projects to large enterprises. To this end, Women are being made aware of various income generating projects associated with tourism development. Ultimately actualisation of these projects will lead to the development of great women entrepreneurs and economically empowered families.”
“We are aware that women’s access to capital has been a major challenge towards women empowerment and participation in economic activities across all sectors, tourism included. This has been coupled by women’s limited or no access to collateral. This workshop is meant to provide a platform for the women entrepreneurs in tourism to get vast knowledge on how they can access funding for their various projects and the requirements thereof,” Mr. Chidzidzi added.
Mrs. Nhamo Tshuma, the Managing Director and Founder of Sethule Lodge shared her journey in becoming the successful women tourism entrepreneur she has grown to be.
She said she was inspired by a number of factors to venture into tourism.
“A friend of mine who was already in the tourism business encouraged me to venture into the sector. Our home was considered too big for a small family and someoone encouraged us to convert it into a lodge. I also visited various tourism sites and the research study I undertook made me establish that there was a big demand for an up-market product like Sethule Lodge within Bulawayo,” Mrs. Tshuma said.
She approached the Small Enterprise Development Corporation (SEDCO) which gave her a loan and later liquidated a few assets that she already owned with her family.
“The business has over the years been growing in leaps and bounds as it has also been able to fund its own growth. We face a lot of challenges but have come to find out that women’s challenges are homogenous. They cut across age, race, cultures, trade and industry. Since running business is risky and entails unforeseen circumstances, I also found myself with the fear of failure. My husband encouraged me, challenged me, and pushed me whilst my colleagues in the industry motivated and inspired me,” Mrs. Tshuma said.
She encouraged other women acquire knowledge about the industry, to have the right personality, to look for a mentor to guide them and have the ability to be patient and resilient.
Judith Dzimbanhete, an entrepreneur and founder of Zambezi Traders encouraged other upcoming women tourism players to embrace basic accounting concepts and establish networks for knowledge and experience sharing for the success of their businesses.
Renowned British adventurer, conservationist and motivational speaker, Holly Budge shared her life story about self belief and determination that has seen her fundraise through activities like mountain climbing and horse-riding to establish a conservation initiative called How Many Elephants meant to stop the killing of elephants for their ivory. She has also supported other charities through her hard work and passion.