BAKU – As part of its efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment in Azerbaijan, on November 18, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Association of Women’s Entrepreneurship Development in Azerbaijan (AWEDA), with support from the Small and Medium Business Development Agency (KOBIA), co-hosted an event titled “Women’s National Business Conference/New Opportunities on the Horizon: A Green Light for Women Entrepreneurs.” The conference, which is taking place during the Global Entrepreneurship Week, discussed obstacles to women’s entrepreneurship and explored ways to overcome barriers and boost women’s role in entrepreneurship.
More than 70 participants attended the conference, which included women’s organizations, business associations, and independent women entrepreneurs. Attendees and presenters discussed women’s entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan, and exchanged ideas on what needs to change in order to give women more space and opportunities to fulfill their potential. These discussions were facilitated by leaders of business associations supporting the Women’s National Business Agenda initiative, which is supported by USAID’s Public Sector Activity (PSA).
The conference featured two international pioneers of women’s empowerment: Selima Ahmad, a Member of the Parliament of Bangladesh and founder of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Masooma Sibtain, Former Vice-President of the Pakistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The two distinguished leaders briefed participants about their successful efforts to promote women’s entrepreneurship in their countries, provided recommendations for increasing opportunities for women’s economic empowerment, and detailed how to create a conducive business enabling environment for women.
According to USAID Mission Director Dr. Jaidev Singh, “We believe that women with a strong, diverse, and credible voice in the private sector will incorporate their needs and perspectives in collective efforts focused on women’s empowerment. These women will be effective advocates against barriers that limit full participation in the economic sector.”
As explained by Orkhan Mammadov, Chairperson of KOBIA, “The role of women in the country's economy, employment and private sector development, as well as interest in micro and small business and self-employment is growing. The development of women's entrepreneurship is one of KOBIA’s priorities. The Agency is taking appropriate measures to promote women's entrepreneurship and increase the number of women among SMEs. The Women's Entrepreneurship Development Association is actively represented in the Public Council within KOBIA.”
Sakina Babayeva, President of Azerbaijan Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Association said: "The Association has contributed to the growth of entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan, with a specific focus on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. Our objective is to inspire women to become more engaged in these businesses.”