Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative

From, 10/8/09:

Pathways to Prosperity initiative promotes businesswomen’s connections

Washington – Beautiful textiles from Peru, fragrant aromatherapy mixes from Costa Rica, intricate jewelry from Honduras, energy drinks from Colombia. Aspiring women entrepreneurs gather in Washington October 7th9 for the Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

( – Washington — Beautiful textiles from Peru, fragrant aromatherapy mixes from Costa Rica, intricate jewelry from Honduras, energy drinks from Colombia. Aspiring women entrepreneurs gather in Washington October 7–9 for the Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

They not only will bring their products to exhibit but also will meet with experienced entrepreneurial women from the United States, the Caribbean and South America and attend workshops designed to help them gain access to regional markets, finance and training.

The State Department facilitated the conference as a commitment under the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative. The United States and 11 other Western Hemisphere nations launched the Pathways initiative in September 2008 to ensure that the benefits of trade were shared more broadly within member societies and to deepen economic cooperation among partner nations.

At the May 2009 Pathways ministerial meeting in El Salvador, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged expansion of Pathways goals to include a focus on social justice and social inclusion, especially efforts that transfer the benefits of trade to the poor. “Let us embark together down a new path defined by shared responsibilities, shared opportunities and a commitment to improve the life of every citizen in the Americas,” Clinton said. “We are part of the same family, this continent is our common home, and we will inhabit a common future. Let us do all we can to harness the untapped human potential that covers this vast hemisphere.”

Clinton said that during her travels to the Pathways ministerial she learned that the Number 1 thing both men and women everywhere want “is a good job with a good income. It is at the core of human aspiration to be able to support oneself, to give one’s children a better future.”

At the Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference, the first of its kind with U.S. government sponsorship, there will be approximately 40 aspiring women entrepreneurs who will be partnered with mentors — experienced women entrepreneurs with expertise in international business and trade. The relationships will continue as the mentors visit the entrepreneurs in their home countries over the next year.

At the conference, aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to meet with logistical partners for importing goods and have meetings with trainers and educators. The conference also will link these entrepreneurs with companies that are interested in buying new lines of products and services, and will offer exposure to marketing and branding strategies from such companies as global services company Ernst and Young and global shipping company FedEx, as well as nongovernmental organizations such as Vital Voices and Count Me In.

Participants will receive expert assistance on access to finance, marketing, technology, trade opportunities, and exhibiting at trade fairs. They will be able to exhibit their products and meet with experienced investors in an international trade information fair. There also will be “how-to” sessions devoted to import logistics and marketing, plus visits to local women-led businesses.

The Department of State coordinator for the conference, Marsha McLean, told that she hopes a very strong networking connection will evolve from this meeting of aspiring and experienced women entrepreneurs. “Out of these connections,” McLean said, “is an opportunity for these women to find economic stability for their families, their communities and their regions.”

To move this program and conference forward, President Obama’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, Melanne Verveer, worked to engage the private sector and Latin American enterprises. Verveer long has been committed to expanding the role of women in economic growth worldwide. She said she hopes the women who attend the conference, both the aspiring entrepreneurs and the experienced businesswomen, add to their skills and gain the confidence and knowledge “necessary to broaden their horizons.”

“Women have the potential to usher in a new generation of social entrepreneurs and to ensure that the free trade in our region is about fairness, partnerships and creating a more level playing field,” Verveer told The ambassador said this conference is about establishing relationships and ongoing partnerships. “This is the time to address the importance of women as part of our agenda of engaging with the rest of the world. … Women must be included as part of the solution — as active and capable agents of democracy and economic growth,” she said.


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One Response to Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative

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