Home » Human Rights » Bango – the Woman Behind Empretec

“A woman with a voice is by definition a g woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”

The above quote from American philanthropist and businesswoman Melinda Gates perfectly fits into Ms Sibusisiwe Precious Bango’s narrative, a story that speaks volumes about the journey she has travelled and the odds she defied to join the ranks of successful businesswomen in Zimbabwe.

Ms Bango is the chief executive officer of Empretec Zimbabwe, an organisation promoting entrepreneurship. She is also the deputy president of Proweb and a successful businesswoman who is into mining and tourism.

Like many women in her camp, Ms Bango has managed to redefine power by building her own business, joining the clique of the female populace in Zimbabwe managing successful enterprises. She is determined to succeed in her endeavours.

“Entrepreneurship is an inborn thing. I grew up in a family where I never saw my father working for anybody, because he was a businessman.

“I learnt from an early age that running your own business was an honourable thing, a virtue that I still gly hold on to,” she said in an interview recently.

Ms Bango has to date assisted and mentored hundreds of women and men across Zimbabwe to venture into different businesses, while creating thousands of jobs in the process.

She remains a beacon of hope to individuals who possess brilliant business ideas, but have no entrepreneurial skills and money to kick-start their projects.

“My father played a pivotal role in honing my entrepreneurial skills. He believed that business opportunities are everywhere, so long as one is committed to work hard,” enthused Ms Bango.

Inspired by her father who had a fleet of taxis in the 1980s, Ms Bango was determined to venture into business, a development that saw her enrol for an Honours degree in Business Studies and later acquire a Master of Business Administration from the University of Zimbabwe.

On completion she joined Bulawayo City Council’s treasury department, where she carried out different duties, including handling the investment portfolio of the municipality. Ms Bango said working for Bulawayo City Council, which was one of the best municipalities back then in the 1980s, gave her the much needed exposure and experience in honing her entrepreneurial interest.

“The five years that I spent with Bulawayo City Council gave me good exposure in understanding financial systems, policies and by-laws. That period laid a good foundation for my future plans as an entrepreneur and crucial experience, which I still use to this day,” she recalls.

Equipped with the experience she had amassed at the local authority, Ms Bango went into the private sector where she worked as an economic empowerment consultancy, before joining Empretec, where she is at the helm of the organisation.

Despite straddling the length and breadth of the country, engaging in various portfolios, Ms Bango held on to her dream of becoming an entrepreneur of repute.

Although she was engaged in various small projects when she was in full employment, the ventures were not good enough to fulfil her aspirations of becoming a fully-fledged businesswoman.

Her breakthrough came when she joined Empretec to steward the organisation that was regarded as a powerhouse in promoting entrepreneurship across.

“When I became part of the organisation in the late 1990s, I knew that I would now be able to fulfil my aspirations by imparting information and also learning from others.”

Ms Bango however concedes that her achievements have not been handed over on a silver platter, but are due to hard work, determination and perseverance.

“Through my interactions, networks and experience, I have been able to build a g profile. Everyday has its unique experience, but I continue to aim higher,” she said.

However, not many women have the same eagle’s view, because of a number of constraints, some which are cultural and remain heavily embedded within societies.

Ms Bango said although gender was becoming less an issue and a determinant in business, women still face unique obstacles that impede their ascendancy, further worsening their economic conditions.

“Some financial institutions do have rigid conditions that discourage women to apply for money. Even society’s attitudes towards women who want to get into business are also discouraging and disempowering.

“But I take great satisfaction that our organisation (Empretec) has mentored women who have become successful businesswomen in different sectors including such areas as energy, transport, construction and information communication technology, areas once dominated by men,” said Ms Bango.

Empretec Zimbabwe, which was set up in 1992 as a joint initiative of UNDP and the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and eventually registered as a Trust in 1997, has to date trained more than 15 000 people.

The organisation has in the past years embarked on a variety of projects working with local and international non-governmental organizations in nurturing and imparting entrepreneurship skills.

A firm believer in female empowerment, Ms Bango said economic independence is a crucial element that every woman should aspire to achieve.

“You cannot claim to be socially empowered if you are not economically empowered.”

Such determination and agility to run for opportunities have also resulted in her being elected to sit on different boards.

Source : The Herald