Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon says women need to think entrepreneurial and monetise their talent.
As she launches SheTrades, an initiative of the International Trade Centre (ITC), today, she described it as a vehicle to empower women and change the communities around them.
“Some day I was in the kitchen cooking and I had some leftover dough and some pineapple in the freezer so I pulled out and I added some honey and made some pies. And I thought that these are all local products and someone could be making them and making money from it,” she told Express Business in an interview last week.
Interestingly enough, she said, women have been doing that.
Gopee-Scoon observed that there’s been a surge of small endeavours during the stay-at-home measures implemented during Covid-19 pandemic.
But now is the time to monetise, she said.
“I have a sticky note on my desk which reads: Monetise. How are we going to make these businesses work?” she said.
The SheTrades platform will allow women to embark on their business venture through a guided and supported process.
The launch is titled: “The Role of the Female Entrepreneur in Covid-19 Recovery”.
Gopee-Scoon was first introduced to this project in 2019 at a visit to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the country’s fourth Trade Policy Review in May 2019 .
“During a courtesy call to the ITC, the team was introduced to the initiative and on their return, Ministry officials commenced the process,” she said.
“I am very excited to be launching this ahead of Jamaica. Normally they are ahead of us in these things but we are excited about it,” she said.
She said a soft launch of the initiative has already registered 280 women.
And the local arm has the capacity for 500 women.
“It’s all about finding your talent, understanding there is a market and getting to that market space,” she said. “What we will attempt to do is help them break into that market space.”
SheTrades was launched in 2015 based on a call to action from a collaboration with the private sector, development community, governments, academia and women business associations.
The key points of action were identified and it resulted in a blueprint of seven global actions to tackle key challenges, unlock markets and create an enabling business environment for women entrepreneurs.
The Seven Global Actions are to champion quality data, to enact fair policies, secure Government contracts, to strike business deals, to enable market access, to unlock financial services and to grant ownership rights.
SheTrades aims to connect three million women entrepreneurs to international markets by 2021.
Since 2015, it has mobilised over one mllion women, has built the capacity of over 100 institutions and has enabled the generation of $84 million in exports.
There are SheTrades hubs in 25 countries.
The major benefit of the initiative is that SheTrades leads to Increased trade leads to economic growth, jobs and prosperity. In economic terms, advancing women’s equality could add $28 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
The SheTrades initiative was developed using exportTT.
Each country that embarks on the SheTrades initiative will choose the global actions to which it aligns.
Trinidad and Tobago will focus on:
• Championing quality data
• Striking business deals
• Enabling market access
• Unlocking financial services
It will be officially launched on today.
Within two weeks of launch the ITC will host a webinar to demonstrate the platform and the features of the platform to all registered entrepreneurs. A needs assessment will be open until November 30, 2020.
Following this, the ITC will then design Trinidad and Tobago’s programme with the implementation of the customised programme to begin early 2021.
Who will benefit
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, opening a SheTrades hub will benefit the following stakeholders:
• Amplified impact through coordinated action by aligning national and local initiatives on women’s economic empowerment.
• Increased visibility and credibility to attract new partnerships and funding.
• Local ownership and long term impact.
• Increased capacities to provide services to women entrepreneurs.
• Increased visibility through SheTrades branding.
• Leverage for private sector cooperation.
• Increased networking opportunities with other women entrepreneurs, buyers and investors.
• Expanded know-how through improved technical competitiveness and market know-how opportunities to scale up businesses through B2Bs, trade fairs etc.