In order to ensure the economic promotion of craftswomen in Tunisia, the National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (CNFCE) appealed to Vital Voices Global Partnerships. Specifically, it is to build partnerships aiming at strengthening the role of the handicraft sector in the socio-economic development.
Martina Bennett, of MENA Businesswomen’s Network and Vital Voices Global Partnerships, stressed in an interview with African Manager, the challenge relating to training craftswomen to ensure sustainable development.
What can we expect from the visit you are paying to Tunisia?
We are invited by CNFCE which offered us an idea of partnership in the handicraft sector. We have been asked whether it is possible to take part in a program launched in Tunisia to promote the economic status of craftswomen through strengthening their technical, managerial and commercial skills.
What are the axes of this cooperation?
The program for the promotion of women entrepreneurs in handicrafts aims to enhance the production of craftswomen such as to ensure favorable conditions for integrating local, regional and international markets.
It is dedicated to women who have the passion, the commitment and the ability to positively change the future of their communities. The main objectives of our program are focused on improving the economic status of craftswomen entrepreneurs by strengthening their leadership skills.
Our goal is to change the mindset of a craftswoman into that of an entrepreneur while preserving the heritage of Tunisia. Our ambition is to create a network of women entrepreneurs who would work to improve the performance of women-owned businesses, to promote the role of businesswomen in society and to create an entrepreneurial culture at the regional level.
Indeed, a woman entrepreneur symbolizes the forward thinking, energy and risk taking. In the United States, 28% of private firms are owned by women who employ 13 million people.
Hence the importance of supporting entrepreneurs, especially women in their move to launch their own projects.
In this context, Vital Voices which is a non government organization, has established a network of training centers for businesswomen around the world. These centers provide technical assistance to help women, including those living in slum areas of poor cities start and develop their own businesses.
Why did you choose Tunisia?
Tunisia is a model in terms of rights granted to women … and women hold senior positions throughout Tunisian society, Parliament, civil service and government agencies. Women teach at universities, run businesses, operate in the police and armed forces and are key players in the economy. Women entrepreneurs in Tunisia employ over 100,000 people and represents 8.5% of domestic entrepreneurs.
Tunisia is among the countries that give us special attention and for which we just completed our assistance program.
Do you think that this program would bear fruit in years to come?
Of course yes, especially with the remarkable success that we posted in South Africa. So, we can achieve good performance in Tunisia in the coming years. Vital Voices has implemented a very successful model program in Africa in January 2008.
We may say that Vital Voices has proven itself in promoting these types of coalitions across the MENA region and made its expertise and capabilities available to potential partners.
The focus for us is that women can take advantage of all the tools necessary to improve their businesses, promote profitability and earnings, especially since they have the opportunity to bring the tradition of women crafts in the international market.