By Mhlengi Magongo | 2021-06-19
The Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM) will now be known as the COMESA Federation of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (COMFWB). This was announced by COMFWB Chairperson and Manzini South Member of Parliament Thandi Nxumalo during the COMFWB Feedlot Workshop held at The George Hotel.
The cooperative invited agri-business women in Eswatini who specialise on feedlots to form a team that will assist the women with marketing of their products. About 25 agri-business women attended the event which was graced by officials from the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade as well the Small Enterprises Development Company (SEDCO). Nxumalo said the aim of the organisation was to empower women in the business world and also make the market area more accessible for them.
She clarified that the cooperative was not a company, but an organisation formed specifically to assist Eswatini women in business. “We are the same as Business Eswatini but our only difference is that we do not include men in our programme,” she said. Nxumalo added, the name change from FEMCOM to COMFWB does not mean that the objectives of the organisation would differ.
She noted that one of the core principles of COMFWB was to be a collective voice for women in business, as an umbrella body, they were expected to cater for their needs. Nxumalo said women who join COMFWB need to be hardworking and committed to doing their work so that they could also create opportunities for others. She said one of government’s major challenges was employment; therefore they intend to bring about the desired change by creating jobs.
The chairperson further mentioned that if women in business were to participate in workshops and other services of COMFWB, more women would thrive in the business sector. Phumzile Nxumalo, an official from the Ministry of Commerce pointed out that there was a lot of work that still needs to be done. She said the survival of the organisation is in the hands of its members. Phumzile said if members of the organisation would work hard, they would avail opportunities for themselves, not only from government but from the private sector as well.
“We still have a long way to go, I am sure that if all women in this sector are to work together, more opportunities will avail themselves,” she said. She emphasised that the organisation would will not be run like a business but a platform where all necessary decisions that have to do with women in business would be taken.
..........................COMFWB elects new committee
Seven women have been elected to oversee the feedlot programme, which was launched by the COMESA Federation of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (COMFWB). The women that were elected have been tasked to oversee challenges and expectations that agri-business women involved in feedlots may have.
The feedlot programme does not have a name yet; it will be decided by the new executive members who recently assumed office. The newly elected members also have to decide whether they will register the programme as an association or a cooperative. This was disclosed by COMFWB Chairperson and Manzini South Member of Parliament Thandi Nxumalo, during the COMFWB Feedlot Workshop held at The George Hotel.
Nxumalo said the feedlot has to be solely for women and it was important that all women join in line with their mandate to empower women. She said COMESA is their body and they will join as COMFWB Eswatini feedlotters. “We need to form this feedlot programme so that other bodies like COMESA can be able to recognise and assist us more,” she said.
The legislator also mentioned that the programme was key in the funding of businesses associated and manned by women. She said COMFWB was planning to grow, which was only possible if more women would join and participate in their programmes. Phetsile Sithole, a Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) who also worked for UNESWA administration for four years, and is currently a feedlot farmer with over 70 cattle, 50 pigs was elected as the chairperson.
Sithole said she had experienced a lot of challenges in the business which include theft. She recounted that in 2010, one of her businesses was attacked by thieves and as a result was forced to shut down. “I once owned and operated a butchery, but I had to close it after it was mugged by thieves which was a huge setback,” she said.
Sithole also mentioned that leaving her job and concentrating on her business was not an easy task but she managed to pull through. From the 25 that attended only 23 were eligible to vote, MP Thandi Nxumalo and COMFWB’s Winile were excluded as they form part of the staff.
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