In Kathmandu this September, Nepal’s vice president, the Rt. Honourable Nanda Kishor Pun, led the International Women Entrepreneurs Summit with opening remarks about the importance of empowering women to encourage economic development in the country. The event brought together delegates from more than 27 countries to deliberate on innovative economic interventions and cutting-edge collaborations for gender equality and the economic empowerment of women.
Those in attendance of the Summit, held 3-5 September included women business leaders, professionals, international service providers, resource organizations, relevant sectorial experts, government representatives and other stakeholders. Entrepreneurship, education, cross-cultural collaboration and consensus to construct on conversations with bold actions, emerged as outcomes. Partnerships were signed and substantiated as new connections and ideas were born. The South Asian Women Development Forum organised the Summit.
Vice President Pun expressed strong support of this international summit and its ability to create lasting regional and international connections, empowering more Nepali women as entrepreneurs.
Guest of Honour, the Honourable Foreign Minister of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, emphasized the importance of women’s participation in economic development and noted the significant and supplementary contributions made by women across diverse sectors. Founder and president of SAWDF, Pramilla Acharya Rijal, encouraged a wide array of topics from IT to tourism, e-trade and gender. Panellists from diverse backgrounds shared their knowledge and experience to achieve the core objectives set by the Summit.
Founders and women leaders from around the world initiated important conversations, fuelled dialogue, and provided clear demonstrations of high-quality, women-led, ethical and ecological productivity. These women included the initiator of the first exclusive Industrial Estate for Women under public private partnership in India, Smt. Kannegati Rama Devi, President of the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs, to Li Xiaomei, founder of Tianyuanze Potato Variety Professional Cooperative in Wuyauan County, China,. Deepali Gotadke, founder of WebDreams India and Shana Fatina founder of clean energy and water PT Tinamitra Nusantara Mandiri, Indonesia. These existing success models inspired insight into how similarly accessible objectives may be met to enable women entrepreneurs in other ecosystems.
The launch of the Indo-African Women Chambers in Nepal was announced and letters of exchange between UNIDO Bahrain, SAWDF and ALEAP were signed. Greater growth of the SAWDF movement through the networking of networks became increasingly evident during the event as the women agreed that there is a greater need to take ownership of their own economic empowerment.
Projects that were presented at the Summit included the Biotech Innovation Ecosystem in India, Sustainable Tourism for Development in Maldives, ‘Creating Women Entrepreneurs for Vending Safe Drinking Water at as Affordable Price Project’ by TATA projects ltd., India, and the ‘Women in Business Management and Public Service’ (WIMBIZ) projects, among others.
In countries where means to results may not be as clear as following due process, it was suggested women aren’t as aware of the subtleties in such negotiation. How do we improve this education? How can we better disseminate good information and how can we sustainably support each other’s success?
Women Power Discussion at Summit
Ibukun Awosika, chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, shared her inspiring entrepreneurial journey, encouraging the building of personal wealth with better preparation and organisation when confronting the challenges and opportunities in life. Yvonne Watson, associate professor at the Parsons School of Design in New York, explored how stronger links with global artisans and the fashion industry can be created to expand entrepreneurial opportunities.
Su Cheng Harris Simpson of SCHS Asia spoke strongly on the importance of working together to support ourselves; a sisterhood so-to-speak, that acts with purchasing power, to boost women-led business. Krithika Ram of WeConnect India shared insight into how to build successful women-owned, global value chains. Dr. Abla Abdel Latif, chair of the Presidential Advisory Council for Economic Development in Egypt underlined the importance of aligning policy, sharing practice, committing to action and maintaining accountability.
Others like Damchae Dem, founder of the Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, former minister of Tourism and Sport in Thailand and Dr. Mariyam Shakeela,president of Addu Women’s Association in the Maldives, iterated prioritising personal growth, operating from the heart, continuing to build connections and the importance of sharing knowledge and wisdom for the sake of energizing motivation to build and maintain momentum. I encourage the development of strong research and development to broaden perspective and improve collaboration, innovation and successful imitation. Others further contributed to high quality conversations held through