United Nations reveal plan for women entrepreneurs

A project which will help women entrepreneurs and their small businesses by increasing access to finance through digital platforms has been unveiled. 

The project is one of two schemes discussed between the Deputy Executive Secretary for Programmes, Economics and Financing of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (U.N.E.S.C.A.P.), Hongjoo Hahm, and local officials in the Samoan government. 

Mr. Hahm was in the country on Monday to talk with local officials about U.N.E.S.C.A.P's plans for Samoa. 

The other project is the U.N.E.S.C.A.P. Pacific Ocean Accounts Platform, which looks at collecting data on the value of the ocean. 

Speaking about the women entrepreneurs project, called the Managed or Led Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (M.S.M.Es) Fintech Innovative Fund, Mr. Hahm said it looks at supporting women business activity. 

“It will take place in June or July depending on the availability of time,” he said. 

“It will be a consultation launch with all stakeholders and discuss the project and how to roll it out and create financing structure and how women can access the funding. 

“The entire objective of the Fintech platform is to get the funding directly to the people in community and villages and the entire objective is for them to access these funds.”

The Fintech platform is a financial inclusion platform that uses your cellphone to save and borrow money. 

Mr. Hahm said with Fintech it allows a woman entrepreneur in the village to save $200 tala for her to use her savings to lend to a person who needs money for a month or two. 

Furthermore, he said from their studies, the majority of savers and borrowers who systematically repay tend to be women. 

He said it is not an exclusion of men but once the platform is created it will help women entrepreneurs. 

“(Its) Smaller level of funding as small as $100 tala as large as $1000 tala and we are talking about micro and small, in essence the funding trying to create is really geared directly towards accessing the people of Samoa, especially women entrepreneurs in this platform.”

Mr. Hahm said the project is not going to be something that is huge and change the face of Samoa when the project is launched. 

“We don’t have such great expectations, we have rational expectations,” he pointed out. 

“We are facing in Samoa, in the villages, and rural areas, especially in the community and women entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to access finance. 

“Whether in farming, the availability of formal lending given to these women has been very low. 

“We are really noticing barrier from formal sector, banking sectors that requires collateral largely based on lands title.”

There are various components and funding is provided by the Government of Canada and U.N.E.S.C.A.P. are using the funding to disburse directly to the various activity under the project.

The second project, which is on Pacific Ocean Accounts Platform, aims to provide a comprehensive open data and statistics on the ocean. 

The representative said the project looks in support and not only statistic with ocean, but what its call ocean account, economic value on ocean and to develop a sea account on national level. 

He said the ocean account is crucial with the rising crisis in our ocean on depletion in terms of marine resources and overfishing. 

The other issue is the solid waste, hazardous materials, waste water, toxic materials that is dumped in the ocean and finds its way in the Pacific ocean from circular flow of the current. 

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