EMPRETEC recognizes successful women's start-up businesses and 20 years' operation in several countries

27 November 2012

Awards will be given to two women entrepreneurs - the creator of a business featuring recyclable products for infants and the founder of a Ugandan real-estate firm - at the 19th Directors Meeting of Empretec, the entrepreneurship programme in developing countries and economies in transition supported by the Division on Investment and Enterprise of UNCTAD.

The meeting will take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 to 28 November. Directors of Empretec programmes in 18 countries will attend.

An award for best micro-enterprise award will be given at the opening session by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD; Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi on 27 November to the Argentine designer Ileana Lacabanne. The mother of two young boys, Ms. Lacabanne created Chunchino Eco-Bebé. The firm offers products with a "100% sustainable life cycle" for infant care. The business takes into account the social and environmental impacts of the primary goods and garments sold, their packaging, and the communications related to advertising and sales. The objective is to foster responsible consumer behaviour.

An award for best start-up business will be presented to Judith Ineku of Uganda. Her firm IJB Real Estate offers affordable residential and office accommodation to low- and medium-income clients in and around the capital of Kampala City. Ms. Ineku entered the real estate business to after taking the basic Empretec course and realizing that there was an unmet need for decent low-cost accommodation in Ugandan cities. She constructed her first housing units without turning to the banks for financing by identifying an opportunity for an undeveloped plot of land taking advantage of the significant savings that could be achieved by using local materials. From that beginning, the company has expanded and now has housing units in Seguku on Entebbe Road and a range of commercial units in the same area. Her ventures provide full and part time employment opportunities for about 20 youths living in the area.

Both women were part of the nominees for the Empretec Women in Business Awards 2012, which were presented in April in Doha, Qatar, during the UNCTAD XIII quadrennial conference. A special recognition will be given to them next week in Geneva because - even if they did not qualify for the award because of their start-up status and young age - they showed vision and an impressive commitment for sustainable development.

Organized in parallel with the fourth session of the Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission, the annual meeting of Empretec Directors will provide participants with interactive sessions to exchange best practices on entrepreneurship: discuss the quality of the programme's training component; and pass on lessons from representatives of guest international organizations and experts about how to strengthening the global Empretec network.

This year Empretec also is celebrating long-lived Empretec centres in Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Uruguay. These programmes all have now delivered business development services to entrepreneurs in their respective countries for 20 years.

EMPRETEC is a training and motivational programme intended to encourage entrepreneurship in developing countries. It was introduced in 1988 by the United Nations.

Local EMPRETEC centres, supported by UNCTAD, now operate in 34 developing nations and economies in transition, and to date have trained over 270,000 aspiring entrepreneurs. Inspired by their EMPRETEC training, entrepreneurs put ideas into action and found or expand their fledging businesses. Over the years, these entrepreneurs have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in developing countries and economies in transition.