The Secretary of Agriculture of the State of Oklahoma, Ms. Blayne Arthur, and the Secretary of Commerce of the State of Oklahoma, Mr. Scott Mueller, attended a USAID-organized roundtable discussion on “Perspectives on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan and the Role of the Women’s National Business Agenda (WNBA).” During the meeting, participants discussed the importance of promoting women’s entrepreneurship and the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and how the WNBA could be used to address these challenges with a common voice.
Secretary Blayne Arthur, the first female Secretary of Agriculture in Oklahoma’s history, emphasized the importance of enhancing an appreciation of the contributions women make to agriculture- contributions which too often go unnoticed. “I appreciate the opportunity to connect with women in business in Azerbaijan to further opportunities for both countries,” said Secretary Arthur. Secretary Mueller amplified Arthur’s comment by stating it is not enough to diversify the economy but to also diversify the workforce to ensure long-term sustainability and economic growth.
Organized by USAID’s Private Sector Activity (PSA), the meeting brought together representatives of the United Nations, the American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan Entrepreneurs’ Confederation, the Azerbaijan Microfinance Association, the Azerbaijan Women Entrepreneurs Development Association, the Azerbaijan Rural Women’s Association, Azerbaijan Businesswomen, the Association of Small and Medium Businesses and Clubs, and the Young Accountants Public Union.
Sakina Babayeva, an entrepreneur and chairwoman of the Azerbaijan Women Entrepreneurs Development Association, noted that there was a big gap between knowledge and experience in women’s entrepreneurship adding that the involvement of experienced mentors would be an important factor in engaging more women to enter the world of business.
The USAID PSA (2019-2024) utilizes a partnership and co-investment approach to support a more resilient Azerbaijan economy and improve the business enabling environment. Women’s economic engagement cuts across all of its work, including improving the competitiveness of the Azerbaijani private sector, including agricultural and rural economic activities, building the capacity of business support services, and reducing barriers that hinder the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises.
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