(CASTRIES, Saint Lucia) – A number of Saint Lucian female entrepreneurs gathered at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa on March 8th, 2014, International Women’s Day, to launch the local chapter of the Women’s Entrepreneurs’ Network of the Caribbean (WENC).
Launched in 2012, WENC seeks to increase 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.
Local chapters have already been established in Guyana and Jamaica. Managing Director of local marketing communications firm Accela Marketing, Agnes Francis is the President of the regional body. She says as Saint Lucia’s female entrepreneurs continue to establish companies, spur innovation and create job opportunities for others, the local WENC Chapter will help them to increase market access and networking, access training and finance and share experiences. She says WENC will help empower women as they strive to succeed in a male dominated business environment.
Quoting from a recent study undertaken by Caribbean Export, Francis said “There is a new generation of women who have ventured out of the often thought of as safe, or female designated businesses into professions that are pushing the envelope, and changing the landscape of the Caribbean, thereby contributing to the global economy. Women are not just running businesses. They are pioneering ecologically conscious, sustainable industries in a host of sectors that are constantly looking forward, constantly innovating,”
Also speaking at the launch was Managing Director of the Star Publishing Company, Mae Wayne who proffered that the current business environment is tough and demands new approaches to business, increased creativity, innovation and the type of networking that an organization such as WENC Saint Lucia provides. In a thought provoking, inspiring address to the female entrepreneurs gathered, she urged Saint Lucia’s business women to remain resolute in their quest for success.
“It is still a man’s world, but you know what? I love being the small woman in this man’s world. People, not just men, expect less of us women. They treat us as if we deserve less, when in fact we generally work harder than most men for less pay. Let our detractors continue to delude themselves while we work even harder than we do now. With all our other responsibilities, taking care of homes, our kids, our aging parents, sick husbands and our staff at work. Sometimes I think we should stop seeing ourselves just as women for in truth, we are more than our gender. We are super,” she said.
The event came to a close with a compelling musical rendition by saxophonist Barbara Cadet who exemplified the passion and quality which WENC envisages.
WENC Saint Lucia promises to develop and implement policies and programmes to achieve and maintain an appropriate awareness of gender diversity on economic growth through best practices, increase access to opportunities to access funding, markets, and technology and provide training and certification in entrepreneurship.
Membership in the local chapter is open to female owners of local businesses.
Sponsors of the official launch include Accela Marketing, Peter & Company, Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa, Options Design, Excel Signs and Barbara Cadet.
Agnes Francis – Women Entrepreneurs Network Caribbean President
Mae Wayne – Managing Director Star Publishing
Local Chapter Launch Attendees