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President Ramkalawan launches the COMFWB Seychelles Chapter   |01 September 2021

President Ramkalawan launches the COMFWB Seychelles Chapter   

Guests in a souvenir photograph after the launch (Photo: Joena Meme)

The Seychelles Chapter of the Comesa Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) was officially launched yesterday by President Wavel Ramkalawan at the Eden Bleu Hotel.

The COMFWB is a sub group of Comesa and the Seychelles Chapter joins a number of other chapters being launched by COMFWB organisation, through the  Comesa, across the African region, to support women in business, with a view to help them grow their business sustainably and explore trading opportunities across Africa.

The event was attended by the First Lady, Linda Ramkalawan; Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Devika Vidot; Minister for Tourism and Foreign Affairs, Sylvestre Radegonde; Minister for Family, Youth and Sports, Marie Céline Zialor; the secretary general of Comesa, Chileshe Kapwepwe; the chairperson of COMFWB, Maureen Sumbwe; members of the COMFWB delegation; the chief executive of the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps), Alvin Laurence; the Governor of the Central Bank, Caroline Abel; the chief executive of the Enterprise Seychelles Agency (Esa), Angelic Appoo; among other guests.

COMFWB acts as a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences among women entrepreneurs; a platform to advocate for inclusive policies where Comesa development programmes are implemented; a forum for networking among women entrepreneurs and an instrument to encourage women to initiate start-ups and/or expand existing enterprises.

COMFWB draws its mandate from the Treaty establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) under Chapter 24 Article 155 – Role of Women in Business; and Article 154 – Role of Women in Development.

After listening to all the presentations, President Ramkalawan remarked: “I have heard about the dynamism and initiatives of COMFWB and I have also noted the various issues and challenges with regard to women’s economic empowerment globally, across Africa and in Seychelles. I am pleased today that women of Seychelles are also participating in this important dialogue to help find plausible solutions. Although Seychellois women benefit from equal rights under the constitution with regard to access to property, finance and the right to education, we recognise that there are still challenges and our government will work to address them with the Comesa and Federation.”

President Ramkalawan also talked about the core priorities of the government which is to facilitate a conducive business community.

“The need for capacity building and formation, the linkages necessary among women to enable them to access external markets, the need to easily process affordable credit, as well as building business resilience and sustainability, especially for young and upcoming entrepreneurs are paramount.”

He commended the COMFWB for such an initiative and encouraged all women to think beyond borders as they learn to scale up and standardise their business and products to meet the demands of a competitive and extended market.

“As government we will support the COMFWB and we commend Comesa for all efforts geared towards supporting the economic development and empowerment of women which ultimately contribute to the country’s economic growth.”

The chairperson of COMFWB, Maureen Sumbwe, thanked the government of Seychelles for joining the 21 chapters from the member states of Comesa.

She talked about the aims and objectives of the organisation.

“Among its various objectives, COMFWB is here to promote  programmes that integrate women into trade and development activities in Eastern and Southern Africa in all sectors of entrepreneurship with a view to improving the economic conditions of women in the sub-region; promote the effective integration and participation of women at all levels of development especially at the decision-making levels; eliminate regulations and customs that are discriminatory against women and specifically regulations and customs which prevent women from owning land and other assets, etc.”

The chairperson of the COMFWB called upon the government of Seychelles to continue providing support to the chapter for the advancement of women in regional integration.

In her speech, Minister Vidot said that the “momentous event that we are attending is indeed the culmination of a long history of cooperation between us. The recent ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will open Seychelles’ doors to a single market of 1.2 billion people representing a window of opportunities for economic development. Seychellois women are extremely talented and have been at the centre of entrepreneurship development. However, factors such as access to raw materials, deficiencies in standards and conformity assessments and access to the right market, have resulted in the inability for many businesses to flourish.”

Minister Vidot added that “my hope for the Seychelles COMFWB is that you remain a solid partner with government as we unlock the true potential of women in business. The government hopes that with COMFWB being established locally, women entrepreneurs will benefit from extensive activities which in turn will support and empower them to launch or grow their existing businesses.We count on you to create new possibilities for personal growth, skills development and improvement across a range of disciplines through mentorship programmes and access to finance.”

The Seychelles Chapter chairperson, Claudette Albert, remarked that after this launch, they intend to deliver on their mandate and are in the process of mobilising resources to implement capacity building programmes to support our women and youth on the economic transformation journey.

“In doing so COMFWB Seychelles needs the support of all partners – government, the private sector and the civil society organisations – to develop and implement an inclusive socio-economic development programmes to support the government’s call for economic diversification through the development of targeted entrepreneurial activities in the value addition and services sectors where the small and medium businesses operate.”

This event was hosted by Ceps and its CEO, Mr Laurence noted that “Ceps is playing its part in this effort and we are aligning our actions to that of COMFWB which promote programmes that integrate women into trade and development activities”.

Three solidarity statements were presented by delegates as commitment to the COMFWB Seychelles Chapter. The first one was by the Minister for Family, Youth and Sports, Marie Celine Zialor, followed by that from the COMFWB chairperson Maureen Sumbwe and the secretary general of the Comesa, Chileshe Kapwepwe.

Elsia Françoise also read a motivational poem, followed by a presentation by the Governor of the Central Bank, Caroline Abel.

This event was also being transmitted live where participants from various parts of Africa joined in.


Vidya Gappy

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