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Importance of Women Entrepreneurship in Times of Economic Crisis


Tunis, 11 November 2009 – Half the world is woman. Educating a woman means educating a family. These two popular sayings underscore the critical and timeless roles women play in society.

Women are known to play incredible and soul-saving roles, mostly indiscreetly, in difficult times including during wars and natural disasters.

In times of penury, when children are hungry and the men lose their sources of livelihoods, everyone turns to the wife and/or mother for support. And in most cases, they provide all that is required to put body and soul together.

Experts at the African Economic Conference which began in Addis Ababa on Wednesday believe that leveraging rural women enterprises during the current economic crisis will help mitigate the impact of the crisis especially in rural areas.

In a presentation entitled “Rural Entrepreneurship for Women: a Case for Wealth Creation by Africa’s Rural Poor amidst Global Financial and Economic Crisis”,  the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the South Asia  Development Gateway, Baharul Islam, said African rural markets offer unique opportunities to develop strong networks of micro-enterprises.

Drawing from numerous examples in Asia, Mr. Islam said: “There are several trades which can be started at village levels and their initiation into production of good quality and high value products -- from flowers to handicrafts, as a step in their economic emancipation.”

He added that “With increased educational opportunities, the women in Africa need to get more organized into small groups through sustained efforts.”

He said rural entrepreneurship for women, if properly applied, could enable semi-literate women to acquire training in business techniques and market development, as well as on the importance of marketing their produce. This process, he said, would require the establishment of micro-banking to facilitate easy loans to meet their day-to-day requirements.

He said challenges facing African women entrepreneurs included inadequate access to formal credit, vulnerability to adverse effects of trade reform, restraints with regards to assets such as land, lack of information to exploit opportunities and poor mobilization of women entrepreneurs.

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