South Asian Country Study on Products with Regional Trade Potential and Associated Non-Tariff Barriers with Special Focus on Women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(WMSMEs) -A case of Nepal
SAWTEE organized a half day national consultation program with support from UNDP/APRC on South Asian Country study on products with regional trade potential and associated non-tariff barriers with special focus on Women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(WMSMEs) -A case of Nepal on 12th February 2015. The objective of the workshop was to share the findings of a research carried out in Baglung, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Rukum and Sankhuwasabha and gather inputs on the study from various stakeholders in order to make the study and the recommendations more robust.
In the programme, Ms Sophie Kemkhadze, Deputy Country Director, UNDP gave a brief background to the programme and emphasised the fact that presence of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) is hindering the prospects of trade within the South Asian region and eroding trade opportunities even if many people in this region are living in extreme poverty.
Presenting the findings of the research Dr Hiramani Ghimire, Executive Director said that the study showed that there are challenges like transport problems, documentation hassles, procedural obstacles in customs, transit problems and lack of branding. They are hindering exports of Allo and handmade paper, including the expansion and operation of related business enterprises . These findings are different from those of other studies which showed that the major barriers in South Asian trade were related to sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Speaking at the programme, Ms Radhika Aryal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCS) said that the findings of the research that employers and employees awareness level about governments efforts were either low or non-existent, have raised the need to monitor, evaluate and follow these programmes and trainings properly.
Mr Ananda Kesari Pokharel, Under Secretary, Ministry of Industry, reiterated governments commitment to encourage womens participation in the industries and said that the government has made provisions for loan of up to NRs 500,000 for women without collateral and with a maximum of 6% interest which can be repaid within 3 years.
Dr Beena Pradhan, Gender Expert and Social Economist said that the study was very timely considering the fact that MSMEs have been contributing a lot to the Nepalese economy, and womens involvement in MSMEs is very large. It is increasingly being recognised that women can contribute to the economy. She further emphasised that there needs to be seriousness in the policies and programmes targeting women in order to ensure proper results.
Ms Pramila Rijal, President, South Asian Women Development Forum pointed out the challenge of bringing women from the informal to the formal sector as this was one of the main reasons why women had failed to reap the benefits of their involvement in various enterprises. She emphasised the need to segregate and define the roles of women involved in micro, small and medium enterprises and build up their capacities accordingly.
Chief Guest of the programme, Dr Arzu Rana Deuba said that the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss ways to promote micro, small and medium enterprises which are not only important for poverty alleviation but also for wealth creation. She further emphasised the need for benchmarking the quality of the products against international standards.
Speaking as the Chair of the programme Dr Posh Raj Pandey, Chairman, SAWTEE said that promotional activities should include promotion of womens knowledge-based economic activities and also help in bringing them out of their conventional roles. He further said that a wholesome package needs to be developed to promote women entrepreneurship and underscored the need for promoting womens participation in the service sector.
More than 50 participants, including representatives from different entrepreneurial organisations, women entrepreneurs, policy makers, private sector and media, among others participated in the programme.
The participants stressed on the importance of developing markets internally as well as in the South Asian region. One suggestion was made to adopt appropriate policies for resolving the payment-related hassles in these countries. They further stressed on the importance of reinforcing the plans related with using the Nepalese handmade papers and Allo products in the public sector to encourage and promote WSMEs. The participants also highlighted issues related with the sustainability of the raw materials, product development and design, effectiveness of the roles of relevant Ministries, capacity building trainings, effective campaigns for information dissemination and appropriate policy measures targeted to women engaged in micro, medium or small enterprises.