Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu has revealed that over 393 applications have been approved for funding at a total of P67million since November 2015 when the Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme was reviewed.
Batshu was speaking during the 4th Northern Women’s exposition official opening in Francistown, where he said the programme, which is under the Gender Affairs department, was reviewed to cover individual women, groups of two women or more, as well as community projects and cooperatives. Funding ceilings were also revised to range between P100 000 for individuals and P500 000 for cooperatives and community projects.
“To date over 67 000 citizens were taken through briefing sessions on the revised programme across the country. In response over 3 500 applications were received with 393 approved for funding at a total of sixty seven million Pula,” he said.
According to Batshu, approved applications are expected to create employment for over 1000 individuals, thereby reducing unemployment levels. He further commended women who participated in this year’s exposition, saying that it was humbling to see how much effort they have put in improving the quality of their products. “I am convinced from what I saw as I moved around your stalls that, some of your merchandise will soon be exported to other countries,” he said.
However he urged them to intensify their efforts in marketing their products and on the same note pleaded with the business community to support government’s effort by procuring from women entrepreneurs.
He also explained that in order to facilitate and implement the Gender and Development National Policy adopted by parliament in 2015, cabinet recently approved a 16-member national gender committee. Its function is to provide strategic policy direction and governance to the response on gender issues prior to the launch beginning of September 2016. The policy emphasizes the need to address specific interests of women and men as well as girls and boys.