On 14 December 2023, in Suva, Fiji, a partnership between ESCAP, the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) and the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) was kicked off with the launch of the Care Catalyst: Micro Business Women’s Childcare Incubation Programme.
The comprehensive six-month training initiative is designed to empower aspiring women entrepreneurs in Fiji interested in establishing and operating their own child daycare businesses. The programme will equip participants with the necessary skills, knowledge and opportunities for increased access to finance and support to establish sustainable and successful child daycare ventures that meet the increasing demand for quality childcare services in Fiji and contribute to the overall development of early childhood education.
By and large, women bear the burden of unpaid care work, which can impact their participation in the formal labour market, impede economic empowerment, and undermine their overall socio-economic status.
Fijian women comprise just 34 per cent of the labour force while they carry out 73 per cent of the unpaid household work. The care economy is a significant contributor to the Asia-Pacific economy. Recognizing and valuing this work is crucial for sustainable and inclusive economic development, and an important component of promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Through supporting the development of childcare businesses in Fiji, the incubation programme is expected to have a significant impact on the country’s economy and society, providing working parents, especially working mothers, including women entrepreneurs, with access to affordable and quality childcare services.
The training programme will be open to 15 participants passionate about childcare entrepreneurship. Priority will be given to women from marginalized communities and those with limited access to business training and resources. The strongest three participants will be provided with seed grants of US$1000.
The initiative is implemented in the context of ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) programme, which supports women’s entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Nepal, Samoa and Viet Nam, with funding from Global Affairs Canada. The incubation programme builds on successful CWE initiatives at the regional level, applying the approach at the local level, working directly with women entrepreneurs in the care economy.