STANDARD Chartered Bank Zambia has set aside K2.5 million for the third women in technology cohort programme.
This will help women scale up their businesses, create jobs and contribute to sustainable economic growth.
The programme is one innovative way for the bank to empower women-led small businesses to harness technology and help them scale-up their businesses, Standard Chartered Bank chief executive officer Sonny Zulu said.
Mr Zulu was speaking during the launch of the programme in Lusaka yesterday following the successful hosting of the first and second cohorts, which ran in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
“As a bank, we will finance the seed money of US$10,000 for each of the five finalists on the programme. We are taking a competitive approach,which will reward the most competitive business proposals,” he said.
He explained at the launch of third cohort programme of women in technology was part of the bank’s global initiative future-makers which tackles social and economic inequality by promoting greater economic inclusion.
Mr Zulu stated that Future-makers by Standard Chartered was anchored on three pillars education, employability and entrepreneurship.
“In Zambia,we have programmes running under each of these, education we have the goal programme which has empowered over 15,000 girls with life skills through sport. Youth to work under employability which helps young people to become job ready through job placement in small and medium entrepreneurs (SME).
“This was launched in 2020 and we have had three successful cohort while building capacity of SMEs that take the young people in various roles. SC women in tech provides women led businesses with the opportunity to scale up their businesses. We are all aware that the majority of women led businesses are skewed to the micro and SME category.” he said.
Mr Zulu stressed that the bank did not believe in just funding and walking away but provided mentorship and capacity building to the finalists.
He also said the bank staff would volunteer their financial know how as their way of supporting Zambian business women.
“I believe that this programme will ultimately, have a long term positive impact on women led businesses in Zambia,as well as create the much needed job opportunities,” Mr Zulu said.
SME Development Minister Elias Mubanga said empowering of women led business was cardinal to the development of the country and commended the bank for continuing on the journey to uplift Zambian businesses.
“lam particularly pleased that Standard Chartered Bank has put Zambian women entrepreneurs at the heart of this programme.
“Many women are involved in entrepreneurship; however, the majority operate micro and small scale enterprises, “Mr Mubanga said.
He indicated that despite this reality. women led businesses were a key and important contributor to the economy.
“I have no doubt that the Women in Tech Programme by Standard Chartered Bank, in partnership with BongoHive, will complement national efforts to empower women led businesses and help them scale up by harnessing the power of technology,” Mr Mubanga said.
BongoHive co-founder and executive director Lukonga Lindunda, said the launch of the third cohort was a testament of the impact of Standard Chartered Women in Tech programme as it highlighted the need for continued support for female entrepreneurs.
Mr. Lindunda called on women entrepreneurs to consider using digital technology as an accelerant for growth in the delivery of their products and services to the market.
“We are excited at this collaboration with Standard Chartered to build the insight and resilience needed by women entreprenurs to thrive in the innovation and technology sector,” he said.