Exporters’ Chamber supports women entrepreneurs | Sunday Observer

Exporters’ Chamber supports women entrepreneurs

The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) will conduct a forum on ‘Women to the Fore in Exports’ on July 27 at the Galle Face Hotel Colombo, to support Women Entrepreneurship in business, especially exports, and also to enhance leadership roles and performance of women engaged in export enterprises.

The chief guest will be Amena Arif, the Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is an affiliate of the World Bank.

She will address the Forum from an International perspective of the potential for women to play leadership roles in business and related fields, and the paths that are available and open to them. As such her address will add more value and depth to the Forum from a financial, and inclusive growth perspective.

The guest of honour at the forum will be Varuni Amunugama Fernando, a successful businesswoman and a prominent figure in the advertising industry of Sri Lanka.

She will deliver the key-note address related to her success story, to inspire other potential women entrepreneurs.

The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion of Professional Women Panelists, who are either Leaders of their respective Institutions or achieves of excellence in their respective fields. The panellists include Ramya Weerakoon (Leadership and Excellence in the Apparel and Horticulture Sector), Shamalie Wickremasinghe (Leadership and Excellence in the Confectionery Sector), Dr. Sulochana Sigera (Leadership on Women in Management), Waruni Amunugama Fernando (Leadership and Excellence in the advertising and related fields), Lakmini Wijesundara (Leadership and Excellence in the field of Information and Technology) and Anushka Wijesinghe (Specialist on Government Initiatives to support women led enterprises). The Panel discussion will be moderated by Nisthar Cassim, Chief Editor of the Daily FT.

The target audience of the Forum are women entrepreneurs already active in the field of Exports and related services, as well as those who have the potential to become entrepreneurs in the Field of Exports and related services, especially in the small business category.

The objective of the forum is allied with the stated policy of the Government to encourage increased participation of women in the economic development of Sri Lanka through their leadership in policy making and related economic activities.

It is also reflected in the legislation that has already been enacted by the Government to ensure the participation of a minimum of 25% women in all elected legislative bodies, as well as the desire of the Government to increase the number of registered exporters from the current approximately 3,500 by an additional 2000 by the year 2020, with a view to achieve national export and economic development targets under its ‘Vision 2025’ policy document as well as the ‘National Export Strategy’.

Women in Sri Lanka constitute approximately 57% of the total population of a little over 21 million. However, out of the total economically active 8.5 million persons only a little over 33% are women. As such around 70% of the labour force constitutes economically inactive women.

Women contribute to the rural economy in diverse ways ranging from small village self-help groups, to leadership roles in decision making processes at different levels.

However, there are still inadequate opportunities for women to actively engage in economic development activities, although women centric programs have been organised by governments and as well as non-governmental institutions in the past.