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Knowledge Sharing Fundamental to Increasing Economic Opportunity for Pacific Women, IFC Says

Port Vila, Vanuatu, March 15, 2010 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today launched a series of reports indicating that Pacific business women need better access to information and knowledge-sharing opportunities on business formalities to realize their full economic potential and contribute to their countries’ national development.
The “Gender and Investment Climate Reform Assessments” show a dominant practice of women operating businesses informally. Countries studied include Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu.
Evidence in the reports suggests that, while women’s level of economic opportunities varies across the region, common barriers do exist. The reports also find that many Pacific women are unable to access property, credit, and justice. As well, lack of knowledge and experience in dealing with business formalization processes, such as business and license registration, is a widespread problem.
“Many women surveyed said they need more information on how to manage their businesses—from meeting government requirements to handling contract disputes and finding financing,” said Karin Finkelston, IFC Director for East Asia and the Pacific. “Providing women with access to this information will enhance their skills to grow and expand their businesses.”
IFC is working with the governments covered in the report to improve the investment climate, and support economic growth and job creation through private sector development. The governments of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan support IFC’s efforts.
The reports provide targets, and specific activities and tools, aimed at reducing constraints faced by business women, for IFC to incorporate into its investment climate reform programs. Recommendations include more active inclusion of women in public-private dialogue, developing gender-sensitive business entry handbooks, and increasing the number of female mediators available for alternative dispute resolution.
The reports’ launch is taking place during a three-day workshop entitled, “Economic Opportunities for Pacific Women in Business,” in Vanuatu from March 15 through 17. Fifty business women from 14 Pacific countries are attending the conference. IFC, the International Trade Centre, and the Australian Agency for International Development are sponsoring the workshop.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .