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Businesswomen from the four Melanesian nations of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Fiji have gathered in Fiji to share their experiences and find ways and means to exchange information and extend business relations as well as pursue opportunities for women in business. 

The regional workshop comes in the wake of an encouraging study that reveals a growing trend in women taking to running businesses on their own across the sub region. The Household and Income Expenditure Survey 2008-2009 also found that initiatives launched to assist women in establishing small businesses was showing positive results.

The workshop titled “Improving Growth Opportunities for Women Business Owners” is being held under the aegis of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and is coordinated by the Pacific Islands Private sector Organisation (PIPSO).

PIPSO chief executive Mereia Volavola said, “The workshop provides a wonderful opportunity to address current barriers to the success for women business owners and a time to review the capabilities of the existing Women in Business Associations with a hope of identifying opportunities to strengthen them.”

The workshop also attempts to seek opportunities for value adding and product and business development by exploring innovative programmes and other support facilities on the opportunity to grow women entrepreneurs, Ms Volavola added.

These are encouraging developments particularly for a sub region where, as other indices amply demonstrate, women’s empowerment and participation in legislature, the executive and the judiciary, besides corporate enterprise is far lower than anywhere else in the world, contributing one of the worst gender imbalances anywhere

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