Kathmandu, October 8, 2015 — As the new Nepali constitution was being revealed in late September, The Asia Foundation in partnership with South Asia Women’s Development Forum (SAWDF) organized a two day conference in Kathmandu, Nepal for advancing women’s entrepreneurship. The conference, attended by women from all of the South Asian Associated for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including Myanmar, was an opportunity to take stock of achievements of the South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium (SAWES) two-year project in South Asia, and to continue to engage with the SAARC Secretariat to push for the advancement of women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in the region.
The conference was inaugurated by Secretary General of the SAARC Secretariat Arjun Bahadur Thapa, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, who spoke on the need for more regional integration in South Asia. It was also an opportunity to promote www.SAWES.org to the participants and to encourage them to register their members on the site, and focus on three key issues SAWDF will advocate with the SAARC Secretariat to achieve more regional cooperation on expanding women’s entrepreneurship and trade.
The South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium (SAWES) was originally held in December 2012 in partnership with the U.S. Government (USG) Department of State’s South and Central Asia (SCA) division. The symposium brought together women entrepreneurs from across South and Central Asia to identify areas where more support was needed to advance women entrepreneurs.
Following the symposium in 2012, the Foundation developed a two-year project with four key pillars: 1) Strengthen networks of women entrepreneurs; 2) Build capacity of women entrepreneurs; 3) Promote regional trade; and 4) Push for policies that support entrepreneurship among women.
SAWES small grants partners: Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industries; National Institute for Technology; Trichy; Eduvision Nepal; Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries; and Central Province Women’s Chamber of Small Industries, Sri Lanka presented the impact of SAWES small grants in each of their countries.
Since the early 1990s, the Foundation has been on the ground, supporting Nepal’s long-term effort in establishing a peaceful and equitable Nepali state through informed dialogue, improved subnational governance, and greater civic engagement.
The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.