Women entrepreneurs in the limelight at IITF 2014
Neha Dewan and Amartya Sinha | @TheDollarBiz With the aim to boost women participation in the foreign trade and manufacturing, the ongoing 34th India International Trade Fair (IITF) in New Delhi, India is focusing on “Women Entrepreneurs” and the skills needed in their entrepreneurial development. Organised by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), IITF 2014 (November 14 - 27) saw heavy footfalls even as it nears completion. Over 6,000 exhibitors from India and abroad have taken part in this event and the fair has already seen over 50 foreign delegations from 30 countries in the initial eight days. While South Africa is the partner country this year, Thailand is the focus country and Delhi is the focus state. However, the unique aspect of IITF 2014 is the participation of almost all states and union territories of India. IITF 2014 was inaugurated by Pranab Mukherjee, President of India. He said, "Trade Fairs of the type and scale of IITF, over three decades, has been a successful launching pad for a large number of consumer products such as – cars, electronics and electrical appliances." He also complimented ITPO for selecting "Women Entrepreneurs" as the theme of this fair and earmarking an exclusive area at concessional rates for highlighting the achievements of women entrepreneurs. The focus on women entrepreneurs comes at a time when experts across the world say that aiding the involvement of women could boost a nation’s economic growth significantly, particularly in countries like India. In a recent report on the Indian economy, the OECD highlighted that while India is on track to return to over 6% growth in the coming years, it would need the contribution of women to improve it by over 2% and sustain the growth rate for a long time. It was clear that women entrepreneurs are keen to forge trade ties across nation borders. It was highlighted by Farzana Naaz, owner of Karachi-based Sajid Emporium which displayed ethnic wear at the fair. She was pleased with this year’s turnout and at the role media plays in improving trade. “We have seen more interest among buyers this time and more awareness of Pakistani fashion and styles now. The airing of Pakistani shows on Indian channels have played a great role in building consumer interest for our labels,” she told The Dollar Business. Popular as the largest consumer goods fair in the Indian subcontinent, IITF 2014 showcased a good mix of B2B and B2C elements. A diverse range of engineering and consumer products and services including infrastructure, electronics, home furnishings, apparel accessories and financial services were presented at the fair. Another woman entrepreneur from Bhaveshnagar in Gujarat explained how the efforts of the Gujarat government in modernising agriculture have scaled up her business tremendously. “The advent of greenhouse farming in Gujarat has helped my business. I have started growing cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum and cucumbers in my greenhouse farm which is paying off well,” Sonalba Dabhi, Assistant Technology Manager at National Horticulture Centre, told The Dollar Business. IITF 2014 also had a number of attractions in store for the visitors, such as street theatre, music and dance shows, and State Day celebrations. However, participants said that people management must improve. “It gets chaotic as the crowd gets unruly and isn’t managed as well. The scale of the event is huge and should be on par with international standards. Hence adequate measures to manage such large crowds should be taken accordingly by the organisers,” said a visitor.
This article was published on November 25, 2014.