The 9th WLN meeting was held in La Serena, capital of the Coquimbo Region, Chile from September 28th through October 1st, 2004 with about 400 participants from 18 economies. The meeting was chaired by Maria de la Luz Silva from Chile. The delegation from Chinese Taipei with 14 was lead by the Chair person of Coordination Council for North American Affairs.
The theme of the WLN 9th Meeting is “Women Entrepreneurs: Synergy of Diversity” where the following topics will be addressed:
· Experiencing our diversity
· A commitment with development through trade
· Sharing the benefits through best practices
· Skills for the new challenges
1. Experiencing Diversity
a) Women entrepreneurs needs and barriers. There are several challenges that women face when doing business, and different groups of women face different challenges –micro entrepreneurs, rural women, indigenous women, etc. The proposal for WLN is to discuss and design strategies and policy recommendations for APEC member economies to reduce the barriers on women as well as to prevent new ones. Among the relevant issues are all the ones concerning regulation and control (e.g. Packaging, labeling and other regulations imposed in order to improve exchange between economies); barriers that hinder female entrepreneurship and their insertion in the internal or external markets.
Another fundamental issue is the recognition of our cultural differences and backgrounds and how they sometimes configure difficulties for women in order to advance towards their autonomy and entrepreneurship.
b) Microenterprise development. For all women the creation of a microenterprise is the materialization of the dream to create a business of their own. For some of them it will be a first step on the way of growing but for others it is a relatively permanent form of economic activity on itself and needs to be addressed as such. It seems important to build on the diversity that microenterprises can assume in each APEC economy, not in their production but in relation to their aims, growing perspectives, composition, etc. By addressing the difference it is possible to identify women microentrepreneurs’ specific needs as well as mechanisms to foster their development – networking, best practices, financing, and others.
2. Sharing Diversity
a) Best practices. The different APEC economies have many successful experiences of women dealing with the difficulties found on the way of entrepreneurship, including some that involve other actors such as the academia or the State. The possibility to share all these experiences is one of the richness of the WLN.
b) Networking. The connection capacity has become more relevant in a globalized and interconnected world. The ability to work with different sectors is also a relevant tool for business. Considering this, it becomes relevant to observe how women entrepreneurs build their networks, alliances and organizations at all levels to make them more powerful and efficient, and how to build strategies together with the public sector.
3. Women commitment with development:
Building a commitment with development through trade. Economic integration is a crucial element to the future of the APEC region. The work towards building an open, fair and transparent trading system must include the particularities of women entrepreneurs and care for their visibility in all economic agreement processes – from bilateral to regional.
4. Skills for the new challenges:
Education, technology and innovation are strategic tools to improve opportunities for people. How women incorporate these issues into their daily routines, how to provide them with the necessary tools to achieve these abilities become more and more relevant. The so called “digital gap” together with a “language gap” for those who are not native speakers of English are important barriers for women’s incorporation into the trade flows of the Asia Pacific Region. The proposal then is to draw on how we can ensure that women receive the training they need and are not left behind.