Caribbean women networking group on major membership drive in Jamaica
A regional networking group for female entrepreneurs is making its way around the country to enlist members for a May launch in Jamaica.
Having stopped off in St Elizabeth and Manchester on its way to Kingston, where the group will meet next month, the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean (WENC) expects to see its numbers at least double in the Corporate Area stretching to St Catherine.
As a start-up, the membership list is not static — applications are still being received — but over 80 women attended the two meetings held so far, according to president of the Jamaica chapter, Ethnie Miller-Simpson.
She expects to see as many as 100 women attend the next meeting for businesswomen.
The network was launched after an award grant of US$58,500, last year from the WEAmericas Grant Initiative, a fund administered by the US Department of State Office of Global Women's Issues.
It aims to assist the network in increasing the voice, visibility and viability of women-led businesses in the Caribbean through advocacy, training, networking, identifying and sharing best practices and resources to support the entrepreneurship development of its members.
Research findings from organisations such as the United Nations and the International Finance Corporation point to the underlying trend that the economic participation and contribution of women-owned businesses to their respective countries is adversely affected by factors such as access to formal networks, lack of mentorship, lack of advocacy and lack of access to funding.
The group aims to tackle these issues, according to Miller-Simpson.
WENC's reach will span 10 countries, including: Bahamas; Barbados; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad and Tobago, where a launch is expected soon after Jamaica.