Enabling Environment for Women’s Entrepreneurship

Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship – Creating a Gender Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Women ICT Frontier Initiative
24-25 July
Suva, Fiji

Fiji recently launched a programme on ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship – Creating a Gender Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.’

This regional initiative is a 5-year programme, funded by the Government of Canada with support from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Launched in Suva by H.E. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the programme is aimed at strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems that foster women’s entrepreneurship, enhancing women entrepreneurs’ access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms, and increasing women entrepreneurs use of ICT tools.

A national consultation on ‘Enabling Environment for Women’s Entrepreneurship’ was held in Pacific Harbour to carry out scoping exercises and to look at ways to strategize for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality, and multiple related goals within the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’
The following three priority components of the programme will play a significant role in progressing the programmes activities and achieving the overall outcomes :

  1. A gender responsive entrepreneurial ecosystem capacity development that is focused on policy development and improving legal and regulatory frameworks, and other barriers that discourage women owned enterprises.
  2. Innovative financing mechanisms: mobilizing capital by developing innovative financing instruments to crowd in public and private funding, and supporting FinTech solutions by MSMEs by piloting innovative digital solutions to improve the access and usage of financial services for women-owned, managed or led MSMEs
  3. Women ICT Frontier Initiative: strengthening capacity of government leaders and policy makers to create an enabling environment for ICT empowered women entrepreneurs

Other important sessions and panel discussions were also held which included topics from :

  • Women’s entrepreneurship: challenges, opportunities and potential policy options
  • Creating a gender-responsive entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Increasing access to finance for women entrepreneurs
  • Leveraging the power of ICT for women entrepreneurship

A session on ‘Women in ICT’ – Leveraging the Power of ICT for Women Entrepreneurship, moderated by Ms. Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro (Pasifika Nexus), was the highlight of this event, seeing some of the regions ICT experts discussing their regional development initiatives to empower more women entrepreneurship and their increased involvement in the ICT sector and policymaking roles.

Further recommendations were made on the ways to advance gender empowerment and innovation for women and girls, approaches to attract more women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and the importance of closely engaging with law enforcement to combat violence against women within our communities, which has been a major issue for most of the Pacific Island nations.

Despite the fact that there are entrepreneurship opportunities available, women entrepreneurs still face so many barriers in the Pacific region. Access to financial services and digital financial literacy have been identified as key challenges in Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship, and all of which have to be built within Government’s national policies to be completely effective and meeting global targets.

Author : Elvin Prasad is the Regional ICT Coordinator at the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) ICT.

The views expressed by the author of this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PICISOC.

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