Global leaders, governments and the private sector need to do more to ensure that women are enabled to participate in global trade. This was the shared message from speakers at the Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum (WVEF), which held in Istanbul. More than 400 participants from over 50 countries, representing governments, international organizations and the private sector, attended the event organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with KAGIDER.
Launching the event Ms. Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies, said: ‘Women of today are active in politics, business world and non-governmental organizations. Taking into account the economic, cultural and political developments, the presence of women in each area is making us happier and hopeful.
We value our women and want to see them more active in business. We have therefore put in place legal regulations and practices to support the inclusion of women in business and increase the employment rate of Turkish women. As Turkey aims to be among the world’s top 10 economies by 2023, increasing women’s participation in the economy is crucial,’ the minister said.
Ms. Arancha González, ITC Executive Director, said: 'ITC is extremely pleased to be hosting WVEF here in Istanbul in partnership with KAGIDER and to bring together these incredible women entrepreneurs from all over the world to make trade happen.
Female entrepreneurship is a powerful ingredient to help our economies grow. WVEF provides these women with the tools, knowledge and contacts to allow them to strike deals, enhance their competitiveness and trade across borders,’ Ms. González said.
Sanem Oktar, President of Kagider, said: ‘We need to step up support for women-owned enterprises and help them grow, innovate and internationalize. And we need to adopt and implement policies that better enable companies to source their goods and services from women-owned businesses.
At this WVEF we will grow our businesses by expanding into new markets, winning new customers, finding new financial resources, and making more business for women entrepreneurs from Turkey and beyond,’ Ms. Oktar said.
Mehmet Büyükekşi, president of the Turkish Exporters Assembly, said: ‘Women are running the family, leading the country and are the locomotive of society. In the past decade we have increased the participation of women in the workforce by 10 percentage points to 33%, but we are still lagging behind.
At the Turkish Exporters Assembly we are committed to supporting the effort to include more women in the workforce and boost the number of women entrepreneurs, who at the moment account for only 10% of the total number of entrepreneurs.’
In addition to roundtables focusing on finding solutions to challenges facing women in trade, several hundred business-to-business meetings will be held between vendors and buyers. More than 400 women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America are attending the event. They will be meeting representatives from more than 50 prospective buyers, including Axa Insurance, Garanti Bank, IKEA, Microsoft, Deloitte and UPS, with a view to striking business deals.
The two-day event also features a series of inspirational sessions covering issues such as financing, attracting investors, contract negotiations and how to use data in decision-making.
WVEF is a flagship event of ITC’s SheTrades initiative, which aims to connect 1 million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020, and helps strengthen understanding of the seven global actions of the SheTrades initiative. Through interactive training sessions, women entrepreneurs are equipped to do business, enabling signatories to the SheTrades initiative to meet their commitments.
Previous editions of WVEF have been held in São Paulo, Brazil (2015), Kigali, Rwanda (2014), Mexico City, Mexico (2012), Istanbul, Turkey (2011) and Chongqing, China (2010).