The International Women's Day (8 March) is just around the corner, and its theme for this year is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Platform for Action was adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, and is recognized as the roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls. In the years since, there has been significant progress made in ensuring equal access and opportunities for women in business, including the rise of women entrepreneurs, in many parts of the world.
When it comes to initiatives led by the development community, many organizations have enhanced their support for women entrepreneurs through organizing large-scale conferences, raising awareness, and providing access to resources and finance. Below we highlight some of these initiatives.
During the 2019 Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-employment (YES) Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the voices of young female entrepreneurs received great attention. In particular, Ms. Jessica Anuna, Founder and CEO of Klasha, who successfully created an online platform for fast fashion retailers serving millennials in Africa. Nominated by the Forbes as 30 Under 30 in 2019, she currently employs a team of six women, all under the age of 27. To (re)watch the opening session of the YES Forum 2019, including Jessica Anuna's inspiring story, click here.
Moreover, ITC’s SheTrades Initiative provides women entrepreneurs and women-owned SMEs around the world with a unique network and platform to connect to markets. SheTrades mission is to connect 3,000,000 women entrepreneurs to market by 2021. To register on the SheTrades website click here: www.shetrades.com. You can also download the mobile app.
Many women running small businesses in developing countries have expressed that one of their largest challenges remains in accessing finance. By supporting a women-focused bond, providing loans to microfinance institutions and impact enterprises, a UN-backed boost is providing financial support to women entrepreneurs. The boost aims to enhance women entrepreneurs’ potential to succeed in their professional and private lives.
In fact, providing access to finance for women entrepreneurs is a focus of many of the development related initiatives. The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, We-Fi, is a World Bank Group led partnership among 14 donor governments, eight multilateral development banks, and other public and private sector stakeholders. The We-Fi funding intends to improve access to finance for 40,000 women-owned/led small and medium enterprises in 21 African countries, mainly in low-income and fragile countries. In 2019, global partners announced $61.8 million allocation to boost the African Development Bank’s initiative for women entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, there are already a growing number of African business women who are at the forefront of the global trade, and excel in sectors such as technology, environment, healthcare, finance and home décor. Learn more at Rewriting the narrative: the women entrepreneurs set to transform Africa's economy
Expanding economic opportunities for women not only contributes to economic development, but it is also a key to ensuring the safety and prosperity of society. Thanks to the joint UN project, Cross-border Cooperation for Sustainable Peace and Development, Kursanali kyzy Begimai, 24, has become the leader of a self-help group in a village on the disputed Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border, by running a profitable agro-business and supporting conflict-resolution initiatives. Her group is now an example to other community members in the village.
The full potential of any society can only be realized if the energy and ideas of the whole population are unleashed. Therefore, when women are economically empowered, their whole community benefits.
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