In Asia and the Pacific, entrepreneurship is one of the main pathways for women’s economic empowerment and strive towards equality, which may - in turn - create ‘multiplier effects’ on family well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. Thus, creating an enabling entrepreneurial ecosystem where women can freely participate to reach their full potential, can yield expansive socio-economic gains stretching from households to communities and economies.
Women’s entrepreneurship has been on the rise over the past twenty years in the Asia-Pacific region. While there are multiple, often inter-connected complex barriers to starting and conducting business across many countries in the region, these barriers tend to be significantly higher for women than men. Some of the main challenges facing women across the region include: (a) legislative frameworks that discriminate, or do not incorporate the specific circumstances, needs and interests of women; (b) limited access to finance, information and communication technologies (ICTs); (c) lack of opportunity for capacity development; (d) discriminatory socio-cultural norms and beliefs. Overcoming these challenges is essential to unlocking the potential of many women to manifest their full economic aspirations and capacities for building better livelihoods, prosperous communities and thriving societies.
ESCAP actively supports its member States in efforts to enhance women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship as a strategy for poverty reduction, social wellbeing and sustainable economic growth, towards the progressive realization of SDG 5 on Gender Equality and multiple related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As part of its support, ESCAP is implementing a five year (2018-2023) regional programme on “Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship - Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” funded by the Government of Canada. The project endeavors to advance women’s economic empowerment and contribute to poverty reduction in the Asia-Pacific region. The project also aims to increase women entrepreneurs’ access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms, increase women entrepreneurs’ use of business development services and financial technologies, and support the development of gender-responsive business development and investment policies and programs.
Within the framework of this programme, ESCAP is conducting a national consultation in Samoa on “Enabling Environment for Women’s Entrepreneurship”, which will serve as a forum for policy dialogue, capacity building and networking for key concerned stakeholders across public and private sector to discuss the needs, constraints and actions to foster women’s entrepreneurship in Samoa. The national consultation will contribute to enhanced capacity of concerned stakeholders across multiple sectors to integrate women’s needs and considerations into policy and non-policy initiatives supporting entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and enabling environment for businesses. Participants will be equipped with knowledge on specific tools and methods to design, implement and monitor gender-responsive measures, including policy and regulatory frameworks, as well as financial and business development services and products.
50-60 government leaders and policy makers from key ministries and agencies in the areas of gender equality, MSME development, trade, ICT, planning, and economy and finance as well as representatives and stakeholders from the private sector, non-government organizations, donor agencies and (women’s) business associations, including those representing women-owned MSMEs in non-urban areas will be participating in the national consulation. Experts in the areas of gender, business development and financial inclusion will be invited to participate as resource persons.
The project launch is jointly organized by ESCAP, the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade of the Government of the Independent State of Samoa.