Source: Seychelles News Agency
Seychellois women entrepreneurs gained additional support for trade activity in the African region with the opening of an office of the COMESA Federation of Women in Business.
The Seychelles' chapter of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Federation of Women in Business was officially launched in a ceremony on Tuesday at Eden Bleu by President Wavel Ramkalawan.
The office is located at the Seychelles Investment Bureau (SIB) headquarters in the Annex of the Independence House in the capital Victoria. It will get the support of a part-time liaison officer and a chairperson which will operate on a voluntary basis.
At the inauguration of the office on Monday, the Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Devika Vidot, said the location was chosen because "we want the SIB headquarters to become a one-stop shop for all entrepreneurs. In this building, the entrepreneur can register their business and get a licence and also become aware of all facilities that are available."
"SIB opens the door to many investments. It is only the beginning in our step to improving facilitation services in the country as we are working very hard to ease the procedures of doing business in Seychelles. COMFWB and SIB is a very good opportunity to marry the public and private partnership and it will be good support for our entrepreneurs," she said.
Minister Vidot hopes that the new desk will help in supporting and empowering women throughout the country and make the visions of women a reality.
Claudette Albert, the chairperson of the Seychelles Chapter of COMESA Federation of Women in Business, said this "represents the support the government is offering to us by giving us an office so that we can give business advisory, support and training for the women. If women need any help in finding business partners or markets in the African region, our office will act as the liaison for them. Now we are going to organise ourselves so that we can provide training to the women."
The official launch of the chapter coincided with a three-day visit of the Secretary General of the COMESA, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
Seychelles joins 20 other COMESA member states now that it has opened its chapter and the new members will benefit from export opportunities and competitive trade within - establishing economic freedom to the women entrepreneurs.
COMESA Federation of Women in Business was established in July 1993 in Zimbabwe with the approval of the heads of COMESA member states, to bring about women's development according to the organisation's treaty.
"The Initiatives offer Seychellois women entrepreneurs a digital platform where they can operate not only in Seychelles but at the continental level better market their products...It offers them access to valuable information on how best to support their businesses and will additionally allow Seychellois to be more innovative," said Minister For Sports Youth and Family, Marie-Celine Zialor.
Maureen Sumbwe, COMFWB Chairperson said that in order for there to be economic integration within the region "we must ensure that women are equipped with the necessary resources, skills and opportunities to start and grow their businesses".
On behalf of the organisation, Sumbwe pledged to continually help the Seychelles chapter, while also appealing to the country's leadership to continue lending its support to the newly formed branch of COMFWB.
This initiative forms part of COMESA's drive to integrate gender in all aspects of development and economic advancement. 70 percent of all cross border traders in the COMESA region are women, with the chance to trade to 1.2 billion people in the region.
Joining the federation will also ensure capacity building of the private sector, which will give the women in the region the required knowledge needed to make them more competitive on the international level.
Earlier on Tuesday, Secretary General of the COMESA, Kapwepwe, paid a courtesy visit to the President at State House.
"Ultimately the objective is to grow intra-COMESA trade and see how we can assist Seychelles to take advantage of being part of a bigger market. We will see how we can support agriculture, production the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), how we can support and build capacity there and the linkages in value chains that we are establishing," Kapwepwe told reporters.
During her three-day visit, Kapwepwe and her delegation have met with some of the Seychellois ministers.