Creating Business Hubs for Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Areas
By providing information and advice on business start-up procedures; available resources for finance, technology and manpower; and in some cases office space and facilities at low rents, business hubs can support women-led start-ups through the tricky early stages. In many cities around the world, business hubs are popping up and providing support to women (especially young women) to kick-start their own businesses. However, in rural areas, business hubs are seen less frequently. In addition, most existing business hubs do not take gendered differences in terms of access, barriers and opportunities into account. What types of services could support rural women in the start-up and development of their businesses? Who will run/host a rural business hub? And how will it be financed?
These questions are currently being explored by the program team of Enhancing Opportunities for Women Enterprises (EOWE). The program is being implemented between 2016 and 2020 in Kenya and Vietnam with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands under the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) Framework. In Vietnam, the FLOW/EOWE program aims to boost women's entrepreneurship in four disaster-prone provinces. The program supports female farmers and entrepreneurs through trainings on climate-smart agricultural practices, value chain development, business management and leadership, and access to resources and markets.
To ensure scale and sustainable business support for rural women in the provinces, the program is developing a strategy and plan to establish rural business hubs in partnership with local economic and agriculture departments. The hubs are planned to be linked with the recently launched nationwide Women Start-up Programme, led by the Vietnam Women’s Union. In March 2018, key staff members of the FLOW/EOWE team, together with the Vietnam Women’s Union, paid a working visit to a Business Start-up Centre (BSSC) for youth in Ho Chi Minh City, to learn from an existing urban model, exchange ideas and discuss potential collaboration to promote business start-ups among youth and women.
To learn more about the key insights and learnings from this trip, read the news article here.