Not business as usual. Businesswomen conference equips entrepreneurs with workable solutions for growth
Strategies to get through the recession and continue with new vigour were at the heart of the presentations by a group of experts who helped to empower a large gathering of women in the North at last week’s 20th Economist Businesswomen Conference.
The one-day conference has evolved into a standing appointment on the northern business calendar, eagerly anticipated by the many established and aspiring female entrepreneurs who have in the past experienced the value of these intensive, hands-on training and networking sessions.
The Economist Businesswomen Conference has been conducted uninterrupted every year for the past twenty years. For the last eleven years, it has been held at Bennie’s Place in Ongwediva. Over the years it has served hundreds of delegates in their quest to start and grow their own business or to promote their career. This year, particular emphasis was placed by all the presenters on the need for streamlining, cost-cutting, customer-oriented service, innovation, and mutual support between female-owned enterprises.
The conference comprised eight technical presentations making it one of the most compact training platforms available to rural entrepreneurs. Delegates commented about the high-impact value, saying that it expanded their knowledge, assisted with self-development skills, suggested tangible strategies to survive the business downturn, added to their managerial skills, and that they found it extremely educational, inspiring and motivational.
Albertina Sumaili of Telecom Namibia brought the delegates up to speed on the latest hardware for digital connectivity. She was followed by Magreth Mengo of Standard Bank on the importance of a positive customer experience and how this grows clientèle. Next was Nangula Kauluma of FNB on leadership and resilience. Then Afra Shimming-Chase of Chase & Associates spoke on the need for sound financial management in both business and private lives.
Silas Newaka of the Namibia Business Innovation Institute rounded off the sessions before lunch emphasising the urgency to generate new business ideas, even for existing products, through a systematic innovative approach.
After lunch, Alisa Amupolo of PowerCom told the delegates about the many business apps available free of charge through the internet and how these improve an entrepreneur’s productivity.
Salmi Kaulinge then told the women about the unexpected turns in her life and how this opened up huge opportunities for herself and for the rural women who supply her with oils derived from indigenous plants.
Finally, lawyer Petrine Hango discussed the nuts and bolts of compliance and the importance of entrepreneurs to ensure their businesses are registered with the relevant authorities, and comply with all legal requirements to operate successfully as a fully legal enterprise.
The 20th Economist Businesswomen Conference was concluded with a formal banquet where conference patron, Sara Elago told the women about her own journey since becoming the first black Namibian Businesswoman of the Year in 1999. Each delegate received an attendance certificate while speakers received a recognition certificate and the sponsors had the opportunity to introduce their companies to the delegates.
Niita, a local artists entertained the delegates with her debut performance, singing popular songs as well as some she wrote herself.
The Economist Businesswomen Conference is sponsored by long-standing partners, Telecom Namibia and Standard Bank Namibia, with Coca Cola joining this year as a smaller sponsor under their global initiative to empower five million women worldwide by 2020. Another conference partner, Sure Ritz Travel, sponsored five airline return tickets from Windhoek to Ondangwa.