ABSA Bank Zambia managing director Mizinga Melu has said whilst milestones have been accomplished towards the fight for women’s equality, questions should be asked whether enough has been and if not, what else must be done to expand their participation at economic level.
Ms. Melu stated that during the month of March, there have been a number of activities across the nation and internationally showcasing the drive on equality as we continue to seek our seats at the table during the Women in Business Breakfast meeting Absa Bank hosted partnership with The Alliance for Inclusive and Nutritious Food Processing (AINFP) in Lusaka on Monday.
“Whilst milestones have been achieved, we must still ask ourselves the question whether we have done enough and if not, what else must we do to increase our participation at economic level?,” she asked.
Ms. Melu expressed her delight at being a part of a distinguished group of women who are working to change the perception of what women can accomplish as a group. She said this shows that if women are to be at the forefront, they cannot avoid the need for innovation and technology as drivers of business expansion.
She said sustainable food security remains critical for any productive country.
“However, there is a dire need for us to explore sustainable ways of increasing nutritious food production whilst addressing challenges such as limited agricultural land accessibility, depletion of natural resources as well as the effects of climate change which we continue to witness right across the globe,” Ms Melu said.
She said digitalisation plays a significant part in revolutionizing food production through cost effective and efficient approaches that allow increased flow of commodities in the market.
“Within the banking sector, digitisation has significantly helped to bridge the access to finance gap as we are able to offer our clients across the country digital platforms that allow them to conveniently transact through platforms such as mobile and online banking. At Absa Zambia we understand that running a business requires dedicated time and that is why we deliberately make business banking less time consuming, safer and more convenient through our digital channels,” she said.
According to Ms. Melu, the United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has made K300 million available to Absa through the USAID EDGE program and USAID Alternative to Charcoal Project for lending to SME, including women-led businesses.
“As part of our efforts to provide affordable financing to SMEs, we have put in place partnerships such as the Develop Financing Corporation (DFC) agreement through the USAID, which helps us to extend cost effective pricing. You will agree with me that the issue of affordable pricing has remained a topical matter and at Absa, we remain committed to finding ways to help unlock the potential of every woman led business,” she said.
Ms. Melu stated that the bank strongly believes that through its four pillars of access to finance, trade markets, business development skills, and business information, it can play a significant role in closing the wealth gap and support the government’s initiatives to provide creative and affordable financial solutions to SMEs all over the nation.
“The SME sector remains a big driver of our economy and providing adequate support towards the growth of this sector cannot be overemphasised. This is why collaborative efforts such as the one we see this morning are important towards driving productivity and sustainable economic growth,” she said
Ms. Melu praised Absa partners TechnoServe and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Centre (WEAC) for collaborating with the bank to support the expansion of women-owned businesses that specialize in the processing of wholesome foods.
“Our combined role is to ensure that we support government’s efforts in building the capacity of businesses, help them unleash their true potential and ultimately, elevate their great,” she said.