Friday, February 23, 2018
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Although the number of Timorese women in the business sector remains small, more are getting involved as a way of improving their family’s economic situation.

Although the number of Timorese women in the business sector remains small, more are getting involved as a way of improving their family’s economic situation.

The Timor-Leste Ambassador for the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Kathleen Gonçalves, said women faced many challenges that prevented them going forward, including lack of access to financial and business training.

“The women have interest, are dilligent and have good business plans, but have no budget to run [their businesses],” she said. 

She said female entrepreneurs ran businesses in a wide range of industries, including contruction, culinary, fashion, tourism and carpentry.

Timor-Leste celebrated World Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19 for the first time last year to give businesswomen an opportunity to come together and discuss challenges and opportunities as a way of strengthening women’s participation in the business sector.

Some of the initiatives included networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs and management training for small business owners.

Gonçalves said a total of 83 female entrepreneurs had registered with AEFTL, but the figure didn’t include those in remote areas.

She also called on the government to make efforts to strengthen women’s economic position, as well as allocate specific funds to support women in business.

As part of government reforms in 2015, the Secretariat of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI) to the Secretariat of State became the Secretariat for the Socio-Economic Support of Women (SEM), with a specific duty to strengthen women’s economic position and address inequality.

That same year, the government issued the Maubisse declaration, asking the relevant ministries to strenghten women’s role in business through their specific program plans.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State Veneranda Lemos acknowledged that although the number of women in business was still small, the government had established a clear policy to strenghten women’s economic position in terms of providing training and funding.

Between 2008 and 2014, she said the government, through SEPI, had provided funds to 399 women’s groups to launch businesses, but many were failing due to management problems.

“Women entrepreneurs, you should pay attention to your work so that we can bring our people out from suffering and poverty and our heroines’ dreams can come true,” she said.

In order to reduce violence against women and inequality in family and society, she said all entities must work together to strengthen women’s role in the business sector.

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