KATHMANDU, Aug 26: The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and the Government of Nepal, on Sunday held a national consultation in line with a new project to support the growth of women entrepreneurs as a strategy for poverty reduction, social well-being and sustainable economic growth.
Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizen Tham Maya Thapa inaugurated the event in Kathmandu.
The five-year project titled ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ aims to create an enabling policy and business environment that enhances women entrepreneurs’ access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms as well as increase their use of ICT and digital solutions, according to a press release issued by UNESCAP.
The project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.
“Developing women’s entrepreneurship presents an invaluable tool for boosting Nepal’s economy as well as empowering women. Yet women’s entrepreneurship is hindered by lack of access to finance and ICT tools for business development. The case for investing in women’s economic empowerment is compelling," said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Alisjahbana.
She called the women as true agents of change whose innovations can lift companies, communities, and countries.
"Together, governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector can improve women’s and girls’ prospects,” she added.
Minister Thapa said “The Government of Nepal is committed to achieve ‘Prosperous Nepal: Happy Nepali’, and welcomes any initiatives to achieve this end.”
“Since, women are half of the universe, prosperity and happiness cannot be achieved without achieving gender equality in all spheres of life. As a matter of fact, economic empowerment is the strongest means of achieving this equality," she added.
She also expressed her hope that the three major components of the project, i.e. the empowering policy for women entrepreneurship, access to finance and use of ICT could help the women entrepreneurs to uplift their skills, build the capital and enlarge their market linkages.
“Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to achieving the sustainable development goals,” said Amanda Strohan, Acting Deputy Ambassador of Canada to Nepal.
“However, women entrepreneurs continue to face barriers. Tackling the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs will require innovative approaches, including innovative financing mechanisms and new financial technologies," she said.
She said Canada was pleased to support the Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship project to provide women-owned enterprises in Nepal with the resources, skills and enabling environment needed to grow their businesses and generate sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
During the consultation, ESCAP and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) announced the winners of the project’s Women Fintech MSME Innovation Fund and thanked the Government of Canada, the Dutch development Bank (FMO) and Visa Inc. for their support to this initiative.