Commonwealth Business Women’s Forum assists 200 SMEs


By Zacki Jabbar

The newly formed Commonwealth Businesswomens Leadership Group (CBLG) was supporting and encouraging 200 Small and Medium Scale enterprises to develop their economic potential, the organizations Chairperson Janaki Kuruppu said on Wednesday.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo, she explained that their services were available countrywide including the North and East.

Kuruppu, who was also the head of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, said that they recently conducted business forums in Hambantota and Hikkaduwa and skills development projects in the North and East.

"Our work also focuses on assisting the process of Peace and Reconciliation and forging a Sri Lankan identity after decades of conflict", she observed adding that they were also promoting the trilingual language policy.

The Chairperson noted that Northern Tamils were eager to learn the Sinhala language and there was an equal keenness among Sinhalese in the South to acquire knowledge of Tamil.

The founder of Business and Professional Women – Sri Lanka Janaki Gunawardena said that the CBLG has been invited to participate in the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) to be held in Colombo and Hambantota, on the sidelines of next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

"We have been granted a three hour slot to submit our proposals to the CBF", she noted.

The objectives of the CBLG, Gunawardena pointed out were seven fold. They were the "5 Ps", which included POTENTIAL – Support and encouragement for developing the economic potential of women. PROGRESSION – Tools, finance and strategies for women to progress as business owners, senior managers and on Boards of Companies. PLATFORM – A space from and for Commonwealth businesswomen to share experiences ,pool resources , ,relationships and knowledge and address key issues including women in key decision making and driving roles and technology access for women to optimize global opportunities .PROCUREMENT – Linking Commonwealth businesswomen to the Global Platform For Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors supported by agencies that provide technical assistance. POLICY –Crafting, communicating and consolidating key messages to policy makers from Commonwealth businesswomen at major Commonwealth Ministerial meetings, including Finance and Women’s Affairs Ministers and Heads of Government to which CBC has direct access.

The other objectives were to support the implementation of the Commonwealth Businesswomens Initiative (CBWI) at a national level; identify through a consensus and inclusive approach CBWI’s national focal areas of work and develop a plan for implementation; raise awareness of CBWI with the media, the private sector and businesswomen especially in mid to large size corporates to identify and help secure support for CBWI at a national and international level; to be a focal point for CBW with the Government and private sector ,both MNC’s and local companies; to be a contact point for CBWI with leading local research bodies and access to local examples of best practice and learning, she observed.

Kuruppu, pointed out that the CBWI had brought together the collective experience, relationships, reputation and reach of the CBC, the international Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) and the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE).

The CBW was developed in an inclusive manner from the outset, driven by Australia (the current Commonwealth Chair and BPW President)Pakistan, the second largest Commonwealth member and a hub for developing country input and the United Kingdom ,where the Commonwealth was now central to the UK governments international priorities and home to CBC and BAWE,she said.

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