The forum kicked off with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities for female entrepreneurs in the Caribbean in five (5) key areas – networks (formal and informal), mentorship, financing, access to the marketplace as well as recruitment and retention of staff. This session was then proceeded by panel discussions on these five areas. Panels were comprised of representatives from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, InfoDEV, International Finance Corporation, WeConnect International and the US Department of State among others.
The discussions and deliberations generated over the duration of the forum also highlighted the positive correlation between economic growth and greater female income, as women spend more of their earned income on food, healthcare, home improvement and schooling, which in turn has a multiplier effect. However, although The World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report shows that countries with a smaller gender gap are more prosperous, women throughout the world are still confronted with many barriers, including women in business. In this regard, in an attempt to reduce the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and to create greater opportunities for business growth, all participants pledged their commitment to the establishment of a regional network –
Thus, the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean (WENC) was launched.
A country representative was chosen for each Caribbean country that was represented and from these an Executive was selected to coordinate the activities of WENC throughout the region. An executive was also appointed to oversee the establishment of WENC and coordinate the activities of WENC throughout the region.
The goal of this regional body is to strengthen the voice, visibility, viability and interest of business women in the Caribbean. This mission will be accomplished through advocacy, training, networking, identifying and sharing best practices and the procurement of funds to support the entrepreneurship development of its members.