SUVA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, and Fijian government, launched on Thursday a new project to support women entrepreneurs as a strategy out of poverty, social well-being and sustainable economic growth.
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 information and communications technology (ICT) and digital solutions.
"Fiji's commitment to gender equality and to creating new opportunities for women and girls should add valuable momentum to our work in this part of Asia and the Pacific. By taking an integrated approach to entrepreneurship, our project aims to support thousands of women entrepreneurs across six target countries in the region unleash their full potential," said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Alisjahbana.
Women-owned businesses have been on the rise over the past 20 years in the region. In Fiji, it is estimated that only 19 percent of registered formal businesses are owned by women.
Also in Fiji and around the region, women entrepreneurs face complex barriers in setting up their businesses including discriminatory legislative frameworks, limited access to finance and ICT, lack of opportunity for capacity development and discriminatory socio-cultural norms and beliefs.
Speaking at the formal launch of the project, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Fiji's minister for women, children and poverty alleviation, said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be realized without the participation of women, particularly those working in the private sector.