The world has witnessed the rapid emergence of electronic commerce (e-commerce) or digital commerce. This has brought about significant changes in the way business is conducted across the globe. The South Asian region is also experiencing substantial growth in trade through the e-commerce platforms. However, e-commerce is still at a nascent stage in the South Asian LDC members. While domestic e-commerce is on the rise, the use of an e-commerce platform for international trade is otherwise limited.
South Asia in particular faces challenges relating to access to finance, ICT as many women entrepreneurs in subregion are not able to expand their businesses and become part of a wider regional and global supply chains mostly due to lack of knowledge and limited scale of their businesses (micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)). Access to ICT, especially to those with small e-commerce businesses can bring about additional information resources and open new communication channels, particularly in marginalized communities. Examples from other developing countries illustrate that women entrepreneurs using ICT technologies find new export markets and reach a significant number of customers, secure a higher number of orders, and significantly cut setup and overheads costs. Also, the use of ICT ensures efficient business practices, and allow for flexible working arrangements, e.g. work from home, etc. Therefore, e-commerce can be a powerful tool for bringing in greater gains to women entrepreneurs since it addresses the outmoded barriers of geographic isolation and limited access to information and financing. Therefore, to train and equip women entrepreneurs for using e-commerce platform will facilitate their business opportunities and can assist them in becoming a part of regional or global supply chain.
In this connection, ESCAP actively supports its member States in the efforts to enhance women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship as a strategy for poverty reduction, social wellbeing and sustainable economic growth, thereby achieving the SDG 5 on Gender Equality and other related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Aim and objectives:
The overall aim of the capacity building is to enhance the knowledge and capacity of target women entrepreneurs in the application of e-commerce platforms to expand their business exports and participate in local, regional and global supply chains.
The activity thus assists the target member States in meeting their SDG 5 targets on gender empowerment, reducing inequalities and poverty due to the expansion of businesses and exports, participation of women entrepreneurs in local, regional and global supply chains and employment opportunities created in these countries. It builds on the ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship project supported by Canadian Government that was launched in Kathmandu on 25 August 2019.
The National Inception Workshop will bring all the concerned stakeholders - women entrepreneurs, civil society organizations working on women empowerment, Government Departments/Ministries, Apex Chamber’s representatives, experts etc. and share ESCAP/EIF’s initiative on empowering women entrepreneurs of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and the work plan. This workshop will also discuss the training module intended to be developed by ESCAP, role and contribution of different stakeholders in this project, future work programme including the nature of training modules and networking.