Introduction:

Against the socio-economic landscape of South Asian women, the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI), the apex representative body of the South Asian business community, established the SAARC Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC) on March 29, 2001, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The founder and Chairperson of SCWEC, Mrs. Anna Philomena Yvette Kahawita, played a crucial role in its establishment.

The official inauguration of SCWEC took place on January 8, 2007, in New Delhi, India, during the tenures of SAARC CCI President, Mr. Dasho Ugen Tsechup Dorji, and SCWEC Chairperson, Mrs. Nasreen Awal Mintoo.

Since its inception, SCWEC, in collaboration with SAARC CCI and development partners, has undertaken numerous events, projects, and initiatives. These include workshops, investment forums, trade exhibitions, SME development programs, e-commerce initiatives, regional value chain development programs, and regional trade development and facilitation. The focus of these initiatives has been to support and empower South Asian women entrepreneurs, promote gender equality in the region and beyond, and foster socioeconomic growth.

SCWEC's projects and initiatives have proven to be productive and effective for women entrepreneurs. They have facilitated the utilization of e-commerce and digital platforms in the new normal context, enhanced social media marketing, improved skills and capacities, stimulated creativity and innovation, increased women's participation in national and international trade and economic activities, and promoted gender equality in socioeconomic spheres. Additionally, they have provided opportunities for women entrepreneurs to explore new markets within South Asia and beyond, while raising awareness about non- tariff measures, trade barriers, regional and transnational procedures, quality packaging, and products for regional and international trade.

Through these events, projects, and initiatives, SCWEC has been instrumental in empowering South Asian women entrepreneurs. It has actively engaged public and private stakeholders to achieve gender parity in the socioeconomic sphere for current and future generations.

List of Former Chairpersons:

Name Country Year
Ms. Nasreen Awal Minto
2004-2006
Bangladesh
Ms. V. L. Indra Dutt
2007-2009
India
Ms. Pramila A. Rija
2010-2013
Nepal
Ms. Shaista Pervaiz Malik
2014-2016
Pakistan
Ms. Rifa Mustapha
2017-2018
Sri Lanka
Mr. Afsana Rahimi
2019-Present
Afghanistan