This past week, 144 countries across the world hosted events celebrating the United Nations’ Women’s Entrepreneurship Week (WEW). Women’s Entrepreneurship Week was a week long international effort to raise awareness on issues affecting women internationally and encourage women’s entrepreneurship around the world. Some of the organized activities included celebrating the accomplishments of successful women entrepreneurs, discussing global women’s issues and educating aspiring women entrepreneurs.
On October 29th, 2015 InfoDev, a partner of the World Bank, announced the launch of the Accelerated Peer Mentoring Program (APMP), an 8-month program aimed at promoting sustainable growth for women led businesses in 12 Caribbean nations under the EPIC initiative. Earlier this year, the World Bank and the Canadian government invested 20$ million to develop programs establishing regional ecosystems of investor and entrepreneur networks within the Caribbean. The Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) was designed to promote sustainable economic growth in digital entrepreneurship, climate technology and women entrepreneurship. The goal of the APMP program is to further efforts in women entrepreneurship by providing “high-potential” women entrepreneurs with the personal and technical support needed to grow their business and increase competitiveness.
Since announcement of the programs launch, program ambassadors have raised awareness and advocated for support across the region. A number of the Caribbean WEW celebrations incorporated outreach activities, coordinated by program ambassadors, to educate women about the APMP eligibility and application process. The nations hosting APMP are excited about providing this opportunity to their women and are eager to engage potential participants as well. A few nations are excited because they are especially equipped to execute EPIC objectives. Timely economic policy reform in these nations has aligned national economic goals with EPIC program goals.
Such is the case in Jamaica where entrepreneurship and gender equity are currently shaping their national economic policy agenda. Major reforms improving the process of starting a business and obtaining credit have led Jamaica to be named as one of the top ten most improved economies in 2015. Additionally, the Jamaican government has made a special commitment to empowering women. In her address to the Gender Equality Conference held on in Jamaica on November 19, Prime Minister Portia Miller said:
“We believe that these [policies] will spur more women into forming more businesses and we recognize the strong role of women and their contribution to national development. In the process of wealth creation, we believe in gender inclusiveness…With the continuing rise in female-headed households, we must support the development of more viable family businesses.”
The entrepreneurial development agenda paired with the government’s commitment to gender equity makes right now an advantageous time for enterprising Jamaican businesses women to become new contributors to the national economy. Jamaican business owners eligible to participate in APMP are especially positioned to take advantage of the changing economic climate; not only will they have the necessary social and technical support to sustain growth, they will also have access to an international network of guaranteed capitol.
APMP represents an important shift in approaches to globalization strategies in the Caribbean. Traditionally globalization practices in the Caribbean have been one sided, ignoring the effects of transnational corporations on local economies. As a result, Caribbean nations have had increasing difficulty supporting national economies and have exercised limited participation in the global economy. Programs empowering women and increasing the capacity of domestic firms may be the first steps to increasing the global economic presence of the Caribbean and implementing participatory globalization projects in the region.
Bryan, C. (2015, November 20). Gov’t Committed To Gender Equality In Business Success – Jamaica Information Service. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://jis.gov.jm/govt-committed-to-gender-equality-in-business-success/
Chirsite, A. (2015, October 29). Press Release: New Peer Mentoring Program to Fast Track Women Entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.infodev.org/press-releases/caribbean-women-entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). (2015, July 1). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.infodev.org/EPIC
“Growth Opportunities are made available for Women-Based Businesses in St. Kitts and Nevis.” (2015, November 20). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.sknvibes.com/news/newsdetails.cfm/94122
Jamaica Ranks in Top Ten Most Improved Economies Worldwide. (2015, October 27). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://jis.gov.jm/jamaica-ranks-in-top-ten-most-improved-economies-worldwide/
Price, S. (2015, November 18). Making The World A Better Place By Empowering Women Entrepreneurs. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanprice/2015/11/18/making-the-world-a-better-place-by-empowering-women-entrepreneurs/