Start-Up Grind Director Bertha Sithole (Left) facilitating the recent YALI seminar


In most societies, particularly in developing countries, women face a lot of challenges when it comes to the business side of things and the American Embassy has partnered with the Youth African Leaders Initiative (YALI) to try and address some of these challenges. The Young African Leaders Initiative is a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The initiative was launched in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.
Start-Up Grind Mbabane Director Bertha Sithole said as an organization they were ready to support the pivotal role played by women in creating new businesses, thus addressing the constraints that were brought about by gender bias. During the seminar, four common gender bias-related obstacles were highlighted by Diane White. Among these was the fear of technology among women entrepreneurs. White said women needed to seek out training programs that were going to teach them how to use and adapt technology to their entrepreneurial ideas, which is sure to boost their chosen field. “Women find that their professional views, opinions and advice are not regarded as valuable as their male colleagues. Their contributions in a meeting, for example, may be ignored and only accepted when a male validates it. As a woman entrepreneur, your focus should be on building your credibility; know what you are talking about; over prepare; defend your points with facts and never lose sight of your long-term-goals,” elaborated White. The attendees discussed cultural biases that existed in their communities. It was agreed that the time to believe that women could only run a market stall was over; instead it was high time that women were taken as serious economic
players. Young women were encouraged to take a bold move and participate in the male-dominated business world and
avoid taking the back seat as this would limit their involvement in the economic development of the country. Going forward, women were also encouraged to work together; not against each other, for the advancement of their business
endeavours and to attend as many seminars and entrepreneur-related events as possible. These would improve their
network base and revitalise their entrepreneurship mind-sets.

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