Source: The Citzen
Monica Gaimo is that rare breed: A woman who runs a successful construction company. She has more than 200 employees and earns her living building roads, bridges, large houses and other things to do with bricks and mortar.

She can be described as the face of Tanzania's growing corps of citizens in big time business. That's the good news.

The space is pretty crowded at the other end of the spectrum, with a battalion of women hustling for a living selling food and a wide variety of low quality clothing, cosmetics and domestic appliances. It keeps them busy, but will hardly launch them into the world of high finance.

Women are seemingly locked in small service industries across the continent. For the vast majority, it is all about survival and not a breakthrough into the kind of investment that will change the game. They will get nowhere if they do not break out of that mould.

The past three decades or so have seen an increasing awareness that we must also go beyond goodwill if we are to secure women's place in business. Many interventions have been put in place to move women from the oranges and bananas stall to the happy place that Ms Gaimo is in. A wide variety of loan schemes have been created and quietly faded from the scene.

Any attempts to get the money out to the women traders who need it must focus not only on finances but also support structures that deal with the issues that hold back their businesses.

Just as important as financing is training in management skills, marketing and customer relations. Women venturing into the world of big business need mentors and technical experts who will hold their hands through the long process that moves them from the idea stage to the ultimate prize.

At the end of the day, it is not enough to just invite women to the business table. We have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. That means investing time, money and energy in the challenge. There is no short cut to creating millionaires.  

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