Women’s Day is now 100 years’ young, and this is the third women’s day for CIPE’s Community of Women Entrepreneurs (CWE). Looking back on what our contributors have said about empowerment in this forum, entrepreneurship has been a strong theme. Each author has expressed in her own way the meaning of economic empowerment and the road to empowerment. It leaves me wondering, is empowerment about the destination or the journey? I’m going to summarize the conversation thus far and ask you to continue it…
In speaking of women entrepreneurs, empowerment largely means independence. As an entrepreneur, a woman solves her own problems, becomes self-reliant, and raises self-esteem in the process. Importantly, she realizes her own potential, and simultaneously contributes to her family, community, and country.
Of course, women face challenges in business: some related to the business environment, and some the product of family responsibilities, social expectations, or discrimination. There are many recommendations for addressing these challenges. Here are ways our contributors have mentioned:
Successful women act as essential role models and sources of inspiration for others. Networking leads to the discovery of opportunities and mutual support. Business support organizations provide services to entrepreneurs and can advocate on their behalf. Training and counseling impart business skills and workplace skills. Access to capital in many forms—bank loans, microfinance, or loan guarantees—can reduce dependence on personal or family savings. Property rights can be the foundation for borrowing and investment. Finally, connecting women with information boosts marketing, know-how, and an awareness of the regulatory environment.
As I see it, business support organizations are a key instrument for helping individual women take charge of their destinies. We have seen extraordinary examples in this forum of what they can do. “FWEAN fosters empowerment through networking, facilitating and sharing of best business practices. Many women came for trainings as housewives and today are producing some of the best pickle brands, spices, soups, and lentils today they are the recipients of the best woman entrepreneur’s awards!” Consider the strength of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Central and North Punjab Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Coalition of Women’s Business Associations in Romania, and the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs.
My question for you is, in your country, and in your experience, what makes the most difference in a woman’s economic life? Are we doing all the right things or can we do a better job to promote women’s entrepreneurship? This is one of the important questions of our time. Please, tell us your idea and your observations.
CWE is a democratic forum and we encourage you to participate. Really! You don’t have to be a CIPE partner or an association executive to share your thoughts. CWE is a small, strong, international community with 235 subscribers. Just look at the author page to see the calibre of people involved. Please join me in extending a huge thank you to the contributors who have shared so much with you. I look forward to seeing you contribute next.