Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid said the move was part of the Government's effort to assist entrepreneurs in boosting their productivity.
She said women constitute an important human capital component with an increasingly significant role in development. "The Government realises the importance of integrating women into the mainstream of socio-economic development.
"Thanks to MPWS and its Secretariat, the Sabah Women's Affairs Department (Jhewa), which is under my Ministry, aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to attend capacity-building and skills training courses, and other beneficial activities.
"Such courses focus on the basics of business and bookkeeping as a foundation.
We also provide supporting grants for eligible women entrepreneurs to start business," she said at the directory launching ceremony at Wisma Wanita, here, Thursday.
Jainab, who is Karambunai Assemblywoman, described the 132-page directory as a platform to recognise the contributions of women micro-entrepreneurs in the State's economic development.
"It serves as useful reference material, and I am happy to note that it has given priority to women entrepreneurs in rural areas," she said.
The publication features the types of businesses run by some 300 women micro-entrepreneurs from throughout Sabah, who had borrowed from micro-credit institutions as startup or additional capital to expand their businesses.
They are exemplary in terms of satisfactory loan repayment and showing business acumen as evidenced by the ability to maintain and expand their respective business operations.
The idea of creating the directory was mooted last year by the Sabah Women's Advisory Council (MPWS) Economic Committee headed by Datuk Margaret Fung.
Meanwhile, Jainab presented certificates of appreciation to eight women micro-entrepreneurs who are duly recognised as "icons" by their respective micro-credit organisations.
The "role models" are Resdianti Dise and Steplina Emmanuel (Tekun Nasional); Rees Sumindal and Noirie Ladat (Yayasan Usaha Maju or YUM); Hetty Ronie and Hanibah Ag Yussop (Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia or AIM); and Shine Agnes Gadoh and Rosnaini Herman Hussin (Majlis Amanah Rakyat or Mara). The Minister gave credit to husbands for contributing to their wives' entrepreneurial success, saying "Behind every successful woman, there is a man." On the other hand, women were cautioned against borrowing on behalf of their spouses as this could lead to problems. She, however, did not elaborate.
Given the availability of government micro-financiers to help the rakyat, Jainab advised women to capitalise on the credit facilities offered and avoid borrowing from "loan sharks" who impose high interest rates.
"For your own good, do not get entangled with the operations of 'loan sharks'," she said.
Earlier, in her address, Project Chairperson, Hanaa Wong Abdullah said the directory was the Government's acknowledgement of women micro-entrepreneurs' contribution to the State's economy.
"Despite the achievements of many women in this entrepreneurial sector, especially those who secured funding from the lending institutions or banks, their contribution has yet to be included in official statistics in the State's economic development reports," she lamented.
According to Wong, studies have shown that women are good borrowers and paymasters.
"I am certain that those who own businesses and operate successfully will motivate and inspire others, particularly rural women, to follow in their footsteps," she said.
She said the directory would not have materialised without support and cooperation from YUM, AIM, TEKUN and MARA, as well as Jhewa.
"We (MPWS Economic Committee) hope to make the directory a biennial publication in order to accommodate more women micro-entrepreneurs in the years to come."
Representatives of the four micro-credit organisations also sit on the Committee.
Among those who witnessed the launching ceremony were Deputy State Secretary (Administration), Datuk Asnimar Sukardi, Chairperson of MPWS, Datuk Mariati Robert, former MPWS Chairperson, Datuk Noni Said, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Community Development & Consumer Affairs, Datuk Siti Sapoo Ahok, Director of Sabah Women's Affairs Department (Jhewa), Fatimah Jaafar and Advisor to the Directory Project Committee, Freddy Rantau who is Managing Director of YUM.