GIS – 29 August 2014: The National Women Entrepreneur Council(NWEC) signed, yesterday at Voilà Hotel in Bagatelle, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM), whose main objective is the promotion of programmes that integrate women into trade and development activities in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The agreement was signed by the chairperson of the NWEC, Mrs Vimi Anuradha Appadoo, and the Chief Executive Officer of FEMCOM, Mrs Katherine Ichoya, in the presence of the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin. The FEMCOM, established in July 1993, is an institution of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which facilitates linkages between women of member states, COMESA Secretariat, COMESA Policy Organs and other institutions that promote trade, investment, development and policy advocacy.
The MoU between FEMCOM and the NWEC covers various areas of cooperation over a three-year period and provides mainly for technical and advisory services to NWEC as regards the Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurship Development and the fostering and implementation of the COMESA Cluster Development Initiative in Mauritius. It also paves the way for enhanced collaboration in three other areas of intervention: enhancing capacity building for women entrepreneurship development through the availability of technical resources; facilitating intra COMESA trade and investment for women entrepreneurs; and a joint advocacy for mobilisation of resources aimed at the implementation of environmentally sustainable projects.
Prior to the signature of the MoU, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare held a press conference where she announced that the National Women Entrepreneur Council (NWEC) is henceforth the FEMCOM Chapter for Mauritius. FEMCOM has established Chapters with national associations of 19 COMESA Member States with a view to support the implementation of its activities by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and experience among women entrepreneurs of the sub region. It is also an instrument for encouraging and facilitating the setting up of enterprises or expansion of existing ones through the facilitation of increased access to resources and assistance as well as for achieving women’s full integration into trade and development activities.
Speaking on women’s empowerment, the Minister said that she welcomed the new developments – signature of agreement and designation of NWEC as FEMCOM local Chapter - as they are opening the scope for women entrepreneurs to further access facilities that can enable them to enlarge their business possibilities. “It is an additional positive outcome for women entrepreneurs in Mauritius to tap into the COMESA market through the facilities provided by FEMCOM”, she said. Mrs Martin added that through the NWEC, local businesswomen will be motivated to embrace regional and international markets.
The CEO of FEMCOM, Mrs Katherine Ichoya, stated that her Federation was committed to work closely with NWEC to ensure that the objectives of the MoU are achieved. She called for a joint mobilisation of resources and collaboration to enhance the skills of women entrepreneurs, enable them to add value to their products, increase production, and facilitate business exposure so that the women entrepreneurs can have access to markets in the COMESA region and beyond. She added that Mauritius could be a showcase of good practices in the region.
It is to be noted that a networking session was also held for representatives of various women entrepreneurs associations and co-operatives. The meeting enabled participants to take cognizance of opportunities to explore more business ventures at regional level as well as apprise themselves of the various facilities provided by NWEC to encourage women to set up sustainable enterprises and promote a culture of entrepreneurship among Mauritian women.
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