Chanel Foundation & the EU invest millions into WED

The legendary fashion icon, designer and founder of the international luxury clothing European brand Chanel, Coco Chanel’s legacy has touched Botswana in a major way. The Chanel Corporate Foundation, a French-based foundation founded under the brand, has partnered with the Centre for Enterprise Development (CDE) in Botswana ‘to support women-led enterprises to promote their role in the economic diversification of the country.’

During the launch of the Women Entrepreneurship Development (WED), a programme coordinated by CDE aimed at capacitating 35 specially nominated citizen owned women businesses with resources to grow their businesses by improving their competitiveness, Deputy Head of Mission and Political Counsellor of the European Union Delegation (EU) for Botswana and the SADC region, Daniel Aristi announced that the Chanel Corporate Foundation will be supporting WED to the  tune of €350, 000 (P3,5m). The European Union has contributed the programme with sponsorship amount of  P23m and the CDE with P5m. Aristi stated that “the EU has endorsed gender equality as one of their core principles,” and also pointed out that gender equality is essential for poverty eradication. “We at the EU fully support the WED programme and will remain engaged,” Aristi continued, commending the women of Botswana for their tenacity, withstanding challenges faced.

Representative of the Chanel Corporate Foundation, Emma Muller underlined their strong commitment to the programme, indicating in her speech that “it has been proven that investing in women has a positive effect in improving the economy.” Muller cited statistics which indicate that women work two thirds of the world’s working hours but earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income; and also that they only own 1 per cent of the world’s property, assuring that the foundation “supports Botswana against such inequalities.”

Speaking at the ceremony launch, the Ambassador of France to Botswana and special representative to SADC, Anne de la Blache said, “financial institutions need to adopt affirmative action to balance the inequality that exists between business women and their male counterparts.” She pointed out that women are usually limited to the informal sector, and therefore need to be empowered to be able to contribute to Botswana’s economic diversification at a larger playing field.

The WED programme will end in 2016. The programme will capacitate women-owned businesses from the following industries: Manufacturing, Arts and Craft, Textiles, Tourism, Agro/Food-processing, Leather works, Waste management and ICT. The businesses will undergo needs assessment followed by a capacity building action plan tailored for each individual business’s assessment outcome. The WED programme is also in partnership with the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana, the Local Enterprise Authority, the Department of Gender Affairs, Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower,  Botswana Bureau of Standards. and women in Business Association.