By Jordan Simeon-Phiri, MEC Stringer
Former President, who is also People’s Party leader, Dr. Joyce Banda says the country’s economy can only grow if women are self reliant and economically empowered through small-scale businesses as they are custodians of families.
Banda, popularly known as JB in the political scene, made these remarks when she addressed a huge crowd of women Sunday afternoon during a business forum for Self Help Groups (SHG) whose objective was to inspire their business plans in Karonga District.
The former President said in business, perseverance, respect for families and love are the secret to success, saying disrespectful business women do not prosper as they spend precious time quarreling with their husbands over petty issues while their friends make money.
“I am glad that Karonga has very hard working women that are engaged in various business ranging from rice, plantains, vegetables and second hand clothes. I want to assure you that you have found a real partner in Joyce Banda as women empowerment has always been my hobby since my childhood.
“My involvement with women dates back to 1989 when l established National Association Business for Women (NABW), whose membership grew to 50,000 in 1997.
“Since that time I have been up and down empowering women through various interventions that includes Joyce Banda Foundation (JBF) that has for produced over 6,500 girls.”
She also assured the jam packed hall with business women that she plans to establish smart villages throughout Malawi like that which were built at Nkhamenya in Kasungu where people will be staying for free and their contributions will be bricks, sand and water towards the construction of those houses that will be powered by solar.
“People in these smart villages will be connected to solar power that they will be using even for cooking and charging their phones, they will receive cows and will also be on social cash transfer program for daily up keep and small scale business.
“Once voted into power l will also increase the minimum wage bill from the current K25,000 to at least K40,000 because life is so hard that making ends meet is a very difficult task,” JB said attracting huge round of applause.
She also promised a K10 billion revolving fund that her office will set aside once she goes to State House on May 21, saying she believes that women economic empowerment is the key to socio economic and political empowerment.
Speaking on behalf of the SHG, president of Tughaneghe Federation under Future Planning for the Children (FPC), Memory Munthali said applauded JB for her visit as she inspired everyone.
“We are motivated indeed. We are happy that we had you as our guest speaker. These women that you see here are dedicated and experienced business ladies.
“The only challenge is capital to boost their ego for business and make them realize their economic empowerment dreams,” Munthali said.
About 122 small scale business women under SHG and nine cluster level associations (CLA) from across Karonga attended the business forum.