Georgian and Azerbaijani women entrepreneurs organizations have teamed up to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in both countries.
The Women’s Business Council in Georgia (WBCG) and the Association for Women Entrepreneurs’ Development in Azerbaijan (AWEDA) are launching a one-year project called “Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment on the Road to Sustainable Development: Enhance and Peer Learning”.
“This three-day business development program is funded by the Swiss Cooperation Office and Embassy of Switzerland to Azerbaijan. Participants will receive practical and professional knowledge from business experts and professional trainers. They will also have the opportunity to introduce their business activities to potential partners and gain more international experience during the Georgian-Azerbaijan Digital Forum which will be organized under the project. The service is free,” Chairwoman of WBCG Natia Meparishvili said.
Q. Why have you decided to launch this project?
A. The WBCG is a non-governmental organization and therefore the top priority of its activities is analysis of current entrepreneurial needs in the country to support women’s economic activities.
We believe that in order to empower and support women in economic business, there should be various support projects, which include both training and the sharing of experience, and of course access to finance.
Our organization, together with AWEDA, won a grant to undertake the project, which will offer free training courses to Georgian and Azerbaijani female entrepreneurs.
The two countries will run empowerment events in parallel and include an intensive training course, competition and business forum with the participation of small and medium-sized female entrepreneurs.
Q. What other projects are underway?
A. It is also the second year of the “Digital Exhibition Week of Women in Art”. The project mission is to create a global platform on which female artists are given an opportunity to exhibit their art to a wide audience, and contribute to the exchange of ideas. The main goal of our project is to provide access to the works of female artists and to promote their economic empowerment.
So far the project has involved 282 artists, with a total of more than 800 registered participants from 12 different countries.
We plan to enable participants to sell their artwork under the auspices of the project. Also, if until now only painting was involved in the project, we’re planning to include other arts, such as pottery, textiles and more.
Q. How should the business environment be changed in Georgia so women may better succeed in their economic activities?
A. Practically the list of needs of women entrepreneurs remains unchanged in Georgia. Achieving gender equality is an imperative of modern business. The list is quite long. I will single out access to finance and gender balance in the workplace.
Mostly female entrepreneurs are involved in micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses. According to statistics, women are mostly self-employed, therefore they earn the status of individual entrepreneur and micro-entrepreneur. The number of women-led startups has increased, which is very good.
However, as you know, more access to finance for women is important for development. So I would like to point out that it is important to have various grant programs, even run a small and micro-business development grant program in Georgia, or various programs by financial institutions to support women entrepreneurs, which simplifies the process of taking out business loans.
We should focus more on the development of entrepreneurial skills. We and similar NGOs try to provide a variety of training, inasmuch as it helps women plan their business idea from the beginning and think about possible means of future development.
The fact is that stereotypes about female entrepreneurs have already begun to break down. Women have become interested in unconventional and unpopular professions, and have even become more accustomed to such professions as bus driver, engineering, building, and more.
Q. Why has the WBCG been supporting the Golden Brand awards?
A. The importance of the Golden Brand event to the business sector is huge. Once a year the organizers meet with representatives of the business community and, based on the results of work by experts, which is preceded by long and time-consuming research, reveal the customer’s favorite brands and reward them.
On behalf of our organization, I would like to say that it is a great honor for us to be a supporter of this outstanding annual event. The answer to why we support it is simple: it is designed to encourage business and at the same time advance the role of the customer.
The event organizers deserve the appreciation and recognition of all business organizations, and am glad we were given the opportunity to be a part of it.