Women invest 90% back into communities - International Trade Centre

Islands Business from SIDS Live:

Friday, 05 September 2014

APIA, Samoa ----Women put back 90 per cent of their earnings into the community compared to 40 per cent with men.

It’s a statistic that shows why investing in women is not just fair or right but actually makes sense according to International Trade Centre (ITC) executive director Arancha Gonzalez.

This week Gonzalez announced three partnerships and three economic empowerment programmes at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

She says because women re-invest in the communities so heavily they are “a powerful instrument to achieve development”.

The partnerships announced were with the Pacific Islands Forum, the Australian Government and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO).

WTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said tourism stimulated economic growth and contributed to international trade.

Rifai said small island developing states needed to have more air connections. “Distance is not a deterrent in today’s transport network… Why do people go to Hawaii when it is in the middle of nowhere? Distance must be psychologically bypassed.”

The ITC’s first economic empowerment programme announced Samoa focuses on women in Samoa accessing the procurement market.

According to Gonzalez, only one per cent of the global procurement market goes to women.

The Samoa programme will help women’s groups produce enough quantities, with the necessary quality standards, packaging and labelling.

The idea of a pilot programme in Samoa was first raised by Gonzalez’ predecessor Patricia Walsh after discussions with Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Meredith.

At the announcement yesterday, Fonotoe said he hoped this programme would “elevate women’s groups economically”.

He says Samoa has a good example of a women’s group accessing the global value chain, with Women in Business Development Inc and their exports of virgin coconut oil to the United Kingdom.

Fonotoe announced the Samoan Government would be providing a warehouse for storage and a truck to Women in Business Development later this year.

Women in Business Development executive director Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i says their success has much to do with finding partners with the patience and goodwill.

“We are blessed with buyers who are more partners than just a market for our product. The most notable global partner in terms of sales so far is The Body Shop International.

“The Body Shop founder, the late Anita Roddick, said many years ago: “If you can’t see the face of the farmer in what you are doing, then what you are doing is wrong.”

Tafuna’i says the organization takes that statement very seriously and makes sure the farmers are rewarded for their hard work. She thanked the Samoan Government and the organisation’s core funders, the NZ Aid Programme and Oxfam New Zealand.

“We now have a new trading partner, New Zealand’s largest café c1 Espresso, who, again, are working with us in product development, processing and marketing.”

Today, at the Organic Islands meeting, C1 Espresso launched The Golden Panther Tea Company, where the ingredients such as dried lemongrass, ginger and hibiscus flowers will be sourced from Samoa.

In Papua New Guinea, the ITC women’s programme aims to take billum, which are locally woven bags, into the international market. To do this, ITC have called on the London School of Fashion and the New York School of Design to be part of the programme.

The Vanuatu programme, based at Espiritu Santo, will build links with women farmers and the tourism sector.

Read story: Islands Business from SIDS Live

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