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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

04 April 2022


Excellency Ms. Ram Kumari Jhakri, Minister of Urban Development of Nepal, 

Distinguished representatives from our partners – the Enhanced Integrated Framework; the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the South Asia Women Development Forum,

Dear participants, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the Training of Women entrepreneurs from South and South-West Asia on Expanding Business through E-commerce and Digital Marketing.

I am very happy to note that after two years of limitations, our office is able to organize this in-person training for around 100 women participants. 

In this regard, allow me to express my appreciation to the Government of Nepal and our partners for collaborating with us to make this training happen.

ESCAP recently released a report that found progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the Asia Pacific region has slowed as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change has exacerbated development challenges, and the region is 35 years behind the pace to the Goals.

Even for South and South-West Asia, progress on all the 17 SDGs has slowed down. Although some progress has been made on some of the SDG goals, the pace is extremely slow on other SDGs, including goal eight on decent work and economic growth and goal five on gender equality.

South Asia is recognized as a dynamic sub-region, but its potential is undermined by gender inequality in all aspects of economic and social life. According to statistics, only 8 to 9 per cent of formal SMEs are owned by women compared to 38 per cent to 47per cent in East Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Women entrepreneurs are considered key to economic growth due to its multiplier effects such as job creation, increase in labor force participation and uplifting families out of poverty and can contribute to achieving several goals, especially goal 5. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While the COVID-19 pandemic has raised unprecedented challenges for South Asia, it has resulted in greater use of digital tools, which has brought a change in shopping behaviors.

E-commerce is shaping up to be a powerful tool for connecting with customers and being part of a wider supply chain.

The growth of the e-commerce industry has also reduced the procedural burden of doing business while increasing the flexibility of conducting transactions. Thus, it has made it easier for women entrepreneurs to expand their businesses while empowering them socially and economically.

I am pleased to inform you that ESCAP through its project on “E-Commerce Capacity Building for Women-led MSMEs in South Asia,” in collaboration with Enhanced Integrated Framework and other partners, has trained 1,500 women entrepreneurs and created a good network of women entrepreneurs.

We are confident that our efforts will empower women in South and South-West Asia and enable them to use new technologies such as e-commerce to promote their businesses.

This training assumes special significance as it is the first in-person training session being organized to equip the women entrepreneurs of South Asia with the know-how to use digital and online platforms. This know how will enable them to expand their businesses, creating awareness of the existing business opportunities and networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

I would like to wish all the best to all the participants attending the training sessions and hope that fruitful results are achieved from these trainings.

Thank you very much.

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Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia +91 11 3097 3700 [email protected]