Expo promotes female entrepreneurs

Over 35 women entrepreneurs converged in Harare last weekend to showcase their businesses at the Zimbabwe Young Women in Business (ZYWB) expo.

Chipo Rupango
Chipo Rupango

Now in its second year, the expo brought together women entrepreneurs, business professionals, opportunity seekers, work-at-home mothers and women re-entering the workforce to network and market their products.

Tinashe Madamombe, the founder of ZYWB, said the aim was to encourage women under the age of 35 to economically empower themselves by engaging in income-generating initiatives.

“Our aim is to promote awareness around young women’s businesses and increase their visibility on the market while at the same time boosting their capacity and competitiveness on the market,” said Madamombe.

One of the exhibitors, Chipo Rupango, 34, said she had managed to network and market her design label Doyenne and was optimistic that her business would improve.

“I operate from home and most of the orders I get for my designs are from customers who are referred by other people who would have seen my designs,” said Rupango, adding that the expo had increased her visibility in the market.

She ventured into designing two years ago when she failed to find a job after finishing her studies at the University of Zimbabwe. “I am one of those thousands of unemployed graduates who have lost hope of getting employment in Zimbabwe and that pushed me into starting my own business,” said Rupango. Armed with nothing but the vision to see her ‘Doyenne’ become a Zimbabwean brand, she set up her business at home to save costs. “I was overwhelmed by the response that I got from the market because when you look around you, there are a lot of shops selling all types of clothes. The response made me want to keep designing and exhibiting not only in Zimbabwe, but regionally and globally,” she said, adding that plans are underway to market her designs in other countries.

Her first design was a leather jacket made out of off-cuts. When it sold like hot cakes in and around Harare, she started making matching outfits, handbags and shoes.

Her vision is to one day set up a factory in the rural areas as a way of creating employment for young women. “Rural women have so much potential and their skills are under-utilised. I would love to set up a factory in the rural areas and create employment for them,” she said, adding that she envisions a society where Zimbabweans appreciate the value that comes with using organic and natural resources in the manufacturing of clothes.

The expo was organised by the ZYWB in partnership with the Women Arts Festival, Zimbabwe Youth Council and the National Business Council of Zimbabwe.

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