South Asian Country hold a study on products with regional trade potential and associated non-tariff barriers with special focus on Women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs)-A case of Nepal.
With support from UNDP/APRC, SAWTEE organized a half day national consultation workshop on South Asian Country study on products with regional trade potential and associated non-tariff barriers with special focus on Women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(WMSMEs) - A case of Nepal.
The overall objective of the study is to identify the constraints faced by WMSMEs in Nepal in operating and expanding their businesses including issues related to access to regional markets such as non-tariff/ trade facilitation linked barriers and provide policy and program recommendations to ease manage the constraints identified. The objective of the workshop was to share the findings and gather inputs on the study from various stakeholders in order to make the study and the recommendations more robust.
In the program, Sophie Kemkhadze, Deputy Country Director, UNDP gave a brief background to the program and said it was a regional program being executed in countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan including Nepal. She emphasized on the fact that presence of Non tariff barriers (NTBs) is hindering the prospects of trade within the South Asian region and missing big opportunity even if many people in this region are living in extreme poverty. She further stated that UNDP has always been focusing on increasing and facilitating trade with right mix of policies and have been making substantive efforts on this front.
“Presenting the findings of the research Dr Hiramani Ghimire, Executive Director said that the study, which was carried out in Baglung, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Rukum and Sankhuwasabha, showed that there are challenges hindering exports of Allo and handmade paper which were mainly related to expansion and operation,” said a press release issued by SAWTEE.
These findings were different from other studies which showed that 86.3% barriers in South Asia trade were related to Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The study showed that transport problems, documentation hassles, procedural obstacles in the customs, transit problems and lack of branding were major challenges while exporting Allo and handmade paper products.
Speaking at the program, Radhika Aryal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCS) said that MOWCS has always been committed towards the empowerment of women and have been providing trainings at district and VDC level but the findings of the research that employers' and employees' awareness level about government's efforts were either low or non-existent, have raised the need to monitor, evaluate and follow these programs and trainings properly.
Ananda Kesari Pokharel, Under Secretary, Ministry of Industry, reiterated government's commitment to encourage women's participation in the industries and said that the government has made provisions for loan of NRs 5 lakhs for women without collateral and with a minimum of 6% interest which can be repaid at 3 years period. This would definitely increase women's access to finance, he said.
Dr Beena Pradhan, Gender Expert and Social Economist said that the study was very timely considering the fact that MSMEs has been contributing a lot to the Nepalese economy and women's involvement in MSMEs is also very large and it is increasingly being recognized that women can contribute to the economy. She further emphasized that lack of product development and design is hampering the promotion and marketing of the products that women create including Allo and handmade paper products. She further emphasized that there needs to be seriousness in the policies and programs targeting women in order to ensure proper results.
Pramila Rijal, President, South Asian Women Development Forum pointed out the challenge of bringing women from informal sector to the formal sector as this was one of the main reasons why women have failed to reap the benefits of their involvement in various enterprises. She emphasized the need to segregate and define the roles of women involved in micro, small and medium enterprises and build up their capacities accordingly.
Chief Guest of the program, Dr Arzu Rana Deuba said that the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss ways to promote micro, small and medium enterprises which are not only important for poverty alleviation but also for wealth creation. She further emphasized on the need for benchmarking the quality of the products to the international standards which is also important to increase exports and stressed on the importance of governance programs and information dissemination strategies to enhance women's participation in the economy.
Speaking as the chair of the program Dr Posh Raj Pandey, Chairman, SAWTEE said that promotional activities should include promotion of women's knowledge based economic activities and also helps in bringing them out of their conventional roles. He further said that to promote women entrepreneurship, a wholesome package needs to be developed which includes training, management and marketing etc. He also emphasized the need for promoting women's participation in the service sector.
More than 50 participants, including representatives from different entrepreneurial organizations, women entrepreneurs, policy makers, private sector and media, among others had participated in the program.