Connecting indigenous women entrepreneurs to markets
The International Trade Centre will bolster the market potential of indigenous women-led and -owned businesses in Guyana with its SheTrades Caribbean Hub.
Each year, 9 August commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to raise awareness of their needs. According to the International Labour Organization, 47% of all indigenous peoples in employment have no education, compared to 17% of their non-indigenous counterparts, and the gap is even wider for women.
Inclusive and sustainable economic growth cannot be achieved without strengthening indigenous economies including women. Building the skills and capacity of indigenous communities, in particular of women, to reach untapped market opportunities should be a priority for countries in developing and implementing their trade and development policies.
A recent ITC mission to Guyana with the Caribbean Development Bank—the prospective host institution of ITC’s first regional SheTrades Caribbean Hub to be launched in September— was a great opportunity to consult with indigenous peoples in Guyana, including women entrepreneurs, to understand their priorities and challenges, which will feed into the Hub’s work.
The SheTrades Caribbean Regional Hub will foster an inclusive business ecosystem across local and regional markets by providing skills trainings, market access and mentorship opportunities to all women-led businesses in the region – including indigenous women.
The indigenous women entrepreneurs in Karrau village shared their experiences in small business development. While noting challenges related to accessing markets, of doing business in remote locations, the stigma of women in entrepreneurship and the lack of access to financial institutions, the women demonstrated their resilience by having created a women’s association to support each other. The need for this kind of support reinforces the importance of creating a supportive ecosystem for indigenous entrepreneurs through the SheTrades Hub.
With support by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Guyana, ITC and the Caribbean Development Bank also had the opportunity to meet with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs, business support organizations and other governmental and UN agencies on site to analyse how ITC can support indigenous women entrepreneurs through the Hub and beyond.
Indigenous communities and their value in the economy
While the Hub is set to help indigenous women across the Caribbean to unlock new markets and create opportunities for themselves, their communities and their countries, more needs to happen.
Indigenous communities value economic self-determination and have much to contribute to national economies, whether through transferring ancestral knowledge to “climate proof” value chains or integrating a sustainable and eco-friendly approach to traditional sectors (for instance, tourism).
On this day dedicated to celebrating the World’s Indigenous Peoples, international institutions and governments should set the intention to listen and integrate their voices into trade discussions, as well as create platforms that allow them to become active partners in sustainable development.
Hosted by the Caribbean Development Bank, the International Trade Centre is launching the first SheTrades Regional Hub in the Caribbean on 26 September 2023 in Barbados. The Hub joins a network of 14 SheTrades Hubs spanning Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Learn more about ITC SheTrades Hubs in this brochure.
About ITC SheTrades
The International Trade Centre (ITC) launched the ITC SheTrades Initiative to remove barriers to women's participation in trade by working with governments, the private sector and entrepreneurs to build the business capacities of women and to create a fairer, more sustainable global economy. ITC SheTrades provides women entrepreneurs and producers with access to key knowledge, resources and networks; supports policymakers on inclusive policy reforms; and leverages public and private partnerships to amplify the impact of its work. For more information, please visit www.shetrades.com.