Enhancing Pacific women’s economic empowerment

1 September 2014
ITC News
New ITC projects to boost entrepreneurship among women to be launched in Samoa

Three new projects to promote women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific will be launched in Apia, Samoa by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

In unveiling the projects for Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu, funded by the Government of Australia to the tune of AUD 3 million, ITC’s Executive Director Arancha González said the aim is to support entrepreneurship among women as they tend to reinvest their income into their families and communities. This helps to improve health and education prospects, and socio-economic progress, she added, in her address to the Multistakeholder Partnership Dialogue at the Third International Conference on Small Island States held in Samoa on 1 September 2014.

‘Through three Es – entrepreneurship, employment and economic growth, ITC helps women derive greater economic benefits from their participation in export-oriented value chains, and improve the export competitiveness of goods and services by women entrepreneurs,’ said Ms. González, in her address to the Multistakeholder Partnership Dialogue at the Third International Conference on Small Island States held in Samoa.

The project in Papua New Guinea, managed under ITC’s Women and Trade programme, is geared towards boosting the quality, creativity and demand for the handmade bilum bags, produced from plant fibre. Working in partnership with the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, ITC will help to develop new markets in Europe and the United States for this unique handicraft. To facilitate the integration of these bilum bag producers, a collaboration with the Small Business Development Corporation to organise these women weavers into associations where they can benefit from training on production techniques, branding and marketing. ITC is assisting the bilum producers in patenting their designs through the World Intellectual Property Organization.

For Samoa, ITC is partnering with the National University of Samoa to build the capacity of businesswomen to enable them to gain better access to government procurement opportunities as suppliers. This collaboration involves enhancing the knowledge of public procurement processes and implementation of guidelines for successful bidding for tenders and contracts. ITC is also working closely with the Small Business Enterprise Centre in knowledge and skills transfer to businesswomen to help them prosper.

In Vanuatu, women farmers who are smallholders are organised into associations which are more easily linked to sector associations such as the Farmers Association in Management and Trade which can provide advisory services such as production planning, quality controls, packaging, logistics and marketing. To enable these women farmers to benefit from the tourism sector, ITC is teaming up with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Programme and the Vanuatu Hotels and Restaurants Association to help open up opportunities for the supply of fresh farm produce to hotels and restaurants.