Panel discussion: Digital Technology, Access to Finance Key Drivers of Women Entrepreneurship, Say Panellists

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Panel discussion: Digital Technology, Access to Finance Key Drivers of Women Entrepreneurship, Say Panellists

Experts have highlighted the critical role of digital technology and easy access to finance in fostering women entrepreneurship in Nepal.

They expressed such views durng the panel discussion in NewBiz Business Women Summit & Awards 2023. The panel, moderated by Michael Siddhi, Country Head-Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered Bank Nepal Limited, and included experts like Radhika Aryal, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies; Rumee Singh, Co-Founder of Rumsan Nepal; and Seema Golchha, Director of Golchha Group.

During the discussion, Rumee Singh underscored the inevitability of digitalisation, stating that businesses that adapt to technology thrive in the current business landscape. She also praised blockchain technology for its potential to revolutionise the economy and support entrepreneurs, particularly in promoting local agricultural products.

Addressing the digital divide, the panellists agreed that fostering digital literacy is vital, starting from schools and homes, to empower women in entrepreneurship. Singh emphasised that mobile phones are a powerful tool to empower women in business.

Similarly, Joint Secretary Radhika Aryal shed light on the government's focus on the digital economy, with the 15th plan prioritising digitalisation and promoting the export of goods and services. She acknowledged challenges in meeting expectations but highlighted ongoing efforts in making digital foundations, mediums, and devices accessible to the masses.

Likewise, Seema Golchha pointed out that digitalisation has become integral to the economy, providing women with opportunities for growth and entrepreneurship. The increasing internet access in Nepal, which has reached 51.6%, has positively impacted women entrepreneurs and their businesses, she added.

The panellists agreed that embracing digital technology and financial inclusion is pivotal in empowering women entrepreneurs and narrowing the gender gap in business. The digitialisation drive in Nepal aims at creating a thriving ecosystem for women-led businesses, ushering in a new era of women entrepreneurship in the country, they added. 

Panel Discussion Summary

1. Entrepreneurs in the digital age need to adapt to the digital transformation to compete and survive; else they risk being a dinosaur. 

2. Evolving digital landscape is changing the traditional business model which will bring opportunities as well as risk. 

3. The Government of Nepal has prioritised the advancement of ICT in the country. However, it is felt the implementation to realise the aspirations are still work in progress, and has room for improvement. 

4. Digital transformation can potentially bring digital divide which can translate to gender inequalities. 

5. Digital literacy has the power to enable women entrepreneurs to overcome the traditional barriers and minimise & eliminate the possible digital divide. 

6. It is possible to pass the benefits of digitalisation to the entrepreneurs at the lower end of the pyramid. They need not know how the technology works but rather understand how technology can be used for their betterment. However, a minimum level of literacy is required to achieve this. 

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