oa Journal of Contemporary Management - Women entrepreneurs and government tenders in Harare, Zimbabwe : challenges and strategies for survival

Volume 17 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



The Government of Zimbabwe’s legislative framework to enhance small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) participation in public procurement encourages SMEs to tender for government contracts, either directly or indirectly through subcontracting with large firms. In acknowledgement of women’s contribution to entrepreneurship in the country, the framework also prioritises women-owned businesses in public procurement. Women entrepreneurs however face a plethora of challenges in securing government tenders. This study examined the challenges hindering women’s participation in public procurement, and the strategies they have adopted to address these challenges. It was conducted in the city of Harare, with empirical data collected from 30 purposively sampled women entrepreneurs using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Content analysis was employed for data analysis. The results revealed that women entrepreneurs encounter several challenges in tendering for government contracts. These include a lack of technical and professional competencies, inadequate facilities and equipment, and a lack of capital. Furthermore, they lack awareness of government procurement processes, procedures and opportunities, leading to missed business opportunities. Fundamental to these challenges is gender discrimination which is deeply rooted within the tendering processes. In response to these challenges, women have developed several strategies, including partnering with male businesses, women bidding for tenders as a group and forming business networks for information sharing. The study recommends bespoke training programmes for women to enhance their participation in public procurement, particularly tendering processes and procedures. Technology transfer and training will improve women’s technical and professional competencies in handling government contracts. In addition, provision of finance through government-guaranteed loans is vital to increase women’s participation in government tendering processes. Importantly, the onus is on women to adopt a proactive approach in searching for public procurement information and establishing information-sharing platforms for the benefit of women-owned businesses. Further studies could explore this topic in other Zimbabwean cities and also explore how the government promotes women's participation in public procurement.

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