The world has witnessed the rapid emergence of e-commerce or digital commerce, bringing about significant changes in the way business is conducted across the globe. The South Asian region is also experiencing substantial growth in trade through 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 overhead 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 platforms will facilitate their business opportunities and can assist them in becoming a part of a regional or global supply chain.
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 National Inception Workshop will bring all the concerned stakeholders - women entrepreneurs, civil society organisations 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.