Ashmeer Mohammed and Paula Gopee-Scoon

Connecting women entrepreneurs: ExporTT chairman Ashmeer Mohammed signs the memorandum of understanding following yesterday’s launch of SheTrades as Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon looks on.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO is the first country in the Caribbean to officially launch SheTrades, an initiative of the International Trade Centre (ITC), which is now part of a community of over 25 countries working towards connecting over three million women entrepreneurs to global markets by 2021.

Delivering the welcome remarks at the virtual launch of the SheTrades hub, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said this launch comes at an opportune time for the women of the world and it will allow them to embark on their business ventures through a guided and supported process.

The launch was titled “The Role of the Female Entrepreneur in Covid-19 Recovery”. Gopee-Scoon said it was just the beginning of a series of initiatives and activities associated with the roll-out of this hub in T&T.

“We are currently in the needs assessment phase, which will identify the gaps and challenges faced by our local female-owned businesses. SheTrades is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour; therefore, the projects and policies which will be implemented will be in response to the gaps and challenges identified by the female entrepreneurs themselves.”

The minister noted that since April 2020, the ministry had seen a number of entrepreneurs registered on the SheTrades platform and it is only at the launch stage.

“These registered, female-owned businesses represent a wide cross-section of sectors, including agro-processing, health and beauty, professional services and the creative sectors. I am particularly encouraged by the response thus far, and I anticipate that the numbers will rise exponentially in the near future.”

Questioned on what measures are being developed by the Government to support and promote female entrepreneurship as a viable avenue to contribute towards economic growth and recovery, Gopee-Scoon said the administration is supporting female entrepreneurship through many tools, including enhancing access to ICT and e-commerce, providing financing opportunities to survive and expand and building capacity for entrepreneurship.

Also speaking was Pamela Coke-Hamilton, executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), who said the SheTrades hub in T&T will allow women entrepreneurs, through the Government and exporTT, to get themselves equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to recover from the pandemic.

And Joanne Salazar, president of the International Women’s Forum-Trinidad and Tobago, advised women entrepreneurs that, to become well-established entrepreneurs, one must conquer the fear of failure and critics.

“We suggest the way to avoid or mitigate such challenges is to learn lessons from small business failure statistics, research the common failure in your market or industry as the best strategy is to predict and avoid them,” Salazar said.

Following the launch, a memorandum of understanding was signed between ITC and exporTT forging the way forward to connect women entrepreneurs.

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