Central Province Women's Chamber to Promote South Asian Cross Border Trade
The Central Province Women's Chamber of Small Industries and Commerce (CPWCIC) recently won a grant competition to undertake a project to promote cross border trade involving women-owned small businesses in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Asia Foundation is funding the one-year project under its South Asia Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium (SAWES) initiative. CPWCIC won the grant competing with several trade chambers in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. CPWCIC is collaborating with the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE) in Delhi and the Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (BFWE) in Dhaka.
Delegates from the three collaborating chambers recently visited each other to prepare a program of work for implementation. CPWCIC sources told The Kandy News that among the activities planned for the year would be the preparation of three web-based trade directories that contain information on women entrepreneurs in the three countries, advocacy to reduce or lift tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede trade in products that women entrepreneurs produce, and establishment of sales outlets in the three countries to promote trade in such products. Technology transfer especially from India in selected fields such as beauty culture is another avenue that will be actively explored.
CPWCIC says that it has already identified some activities that would meet the felt needs of women entrepreneurs in the Central Province. One is the import of quality yarn from India for the local weaving industry. The CPWCIC also sees scope for assisting the tourist industry and promoting tertiary education. In the visit that the CPWCIC delegates made to Delhi they met with senior officials of the National Small Industries Corporation of India with a view to exploring the possibility of establishing an Industrial Incubator in Kandy to help unemployed youth set up new micro, small and medium enterprises.
The development of e-commerce will be a major part of the project. The Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE) in Delhi is developing a web portal to promote cross border trade. This will give access to the vast Indian and Bangladesh markets for women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. It is likely that at a later stage other SAARC countries including Pakistan would also become partners of the SAWES initiative further expanding the market.
CPWCIC hopes to conclude the project in mid 2015 with a workshop and an exhibition cum trade fare in Sri Lanka. Both India and Bangladesh are expected to send women entrepreneurs to participate in this event.