Globally the number of female entrepreneurs continues to rise. Approximately 126 million women around the world now own a business. Developing countries must tap into this potential for women in business to support economic growth. The Australian Government contributes to economic development in the Indo-Pacific region by supporting the establishment and expansion of women-led enterprises and improving their access to finance and markets.
Women entrepreneurs rebuilding lives and economies in Nepal
Women and children in Nepal were disproportionately impacted by the devastating earthquakes that struck the country in early 2015. This disaster presented new challenges for women to earn incomes and support their families.
Since 2006, Australia’s support to the Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP), through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has promoted women’s economic empowerment. Nearly 70 per cent of the poor who have been trained and supported through MEDEP are women.
Maiya Ramtel is one success story emerging from MEDEP. She challenges traditional ideas about the kind of work Nepalese women can do. Maiya is one of the few women entrepreneurs in her village making shoes for women and children, generally considered a man’s job.
The entrepreneurship development training she received from MEDEP provided her with skills and equipment to scale up her shoe-making enterprise. However, Maiya lost her home and business when earthquakes struck Nepal in 2015. In response to the earthquakes, the Australian Government supported the
Rapid Enterprise and Livelihoods Recovery Project to help more than 12 000 micro-entrepreneurs, such as Maiya, revive their businesses and livelihoods. Maiya bought new machines to restart her business with support from the project. Her wish to contribute to her family through her business was fulfilled once again. Being an entrepreneur has helped Maiya become independent and self-reliant, which continues to contribute to the prosperity of her family and community.