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IT is time for a new government after this year’s April polls to step up to create an inclusive business environment, opportunities, and equal access for all women entrepreneurs in the Solomon Islands, regardless of their background or circumstances, according to medical entrepreneur Dr. Donna Wate Haununu.

With the country facing economic challenges and a need for increased opportunities for women in business, the outcome of the elections could play a crucial role in shaping the future for female entrepreneurs.

Speaking to SOLOMON WOMEN, the founder and managing director of Mere Care Clinic in Honiara, Dr. Donna, said that to address this issue, it is crucial for the new government after the 2024 joint elections to implement policies and initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the country’s business setting.

Founder and managing director of Mere Care Clinic, Dr. Donna Wate Haununu.

“There should be a spread out of business training opportunities for rural or semi-urban-based women entrepreneurs,” Dr. Donna noted. “There also should be an offering of scholarships to rural-based women entrepreneurs to access training support offered in urban centers and even overseas.”

She also explained that there should be support for creating partnership opportunities between urban and rural-based women entrepreneurs to help market and sell their products and services and also ensure the holistic wellbeing of the hardworking entrepreneur.

“A new government must implement policies promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business world, including funding minority-owned businesses, creating mentorship programs, and enforcing anti-discrimination laws to ensure fair treatment for all women aspiring and established as entrepreneurs in the country,” she explained.

As the founder and managing director and practicing medical general practitioner at Mere Care Company Limited, a small local business enterprise trading as Mere Care since 2019 in Honiara, Dr. Donna believes that the upcoming elections can make a change in the support of women entrepreneurs in the country.

Dr. Donna further explained that the government should focus more on supporting indigenous women entrepreneurs in terms of funding, training, and mentorship.

“Through funding, there should be lower barriers to accessing funds and capital for all stages of business development, and lastly, there should be more support by having more local successful entrepreneur mentors for the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” Dr. Donna said.

Impact of the 2024 Joint Elections

She said that any political change from the upcoming election will affect important aspects of entrepreneurship for all genders, especially for local women entrepreneurs who are often left behind.

“It can positively impact the growth of more local women entrepreneurs themselves and the various industries they operate in by implementing policies for local women entrepreneurs to thrive, creating a supportive environment and system for them to operate in, and offering more practical funding support from small to large to women in various stages of entrepreneurship locally,” she explained.

She said that she would like to see a new government empower and promote women-owned businesses, citing that women entrepreneurs who are often creative need the Intellectual Property Rights Policy to be reviewed and updated to enter global markets in the near future.

“There should be more women’s entrepreneurship development policies and funding pathways,” Dr. Donna said.

She mentioned that the women-owned businesses in the country are also often social entrepreneurs; therefore, it is part of her work to champion social entrepreneurship in the country.

She also highlighted the key barriers that hinder the success and growth of women entrepreneurs in the Solomon Islands.

“Some key barriers that are hindering the success and growth of women entrepreneurs in the Solomon Islands are capital and funding support for local women entrepreneurs at different stages of their entrepreneurship journey and ensuring there are minimal barriers to accessing these resources,” she said.

She also added that unpaid care support is a challenge because women entrepreneurs tackle it together with actual entrepreneurship challenges, and entrepreneurship support at all levels, from personal to global, is important and should be made normal.

Dr. Donna advised the upcoming election candidates to prioritize supporting women entrepreneurs in the Solomon Islands, as global statistics show a positive impact on women entrepreneurs.

“Fully support these local women in both the short- and long-term needs of the business. Leaders must reach out to more local women entrepreneurs and get their views in order to support them. With these and more support, I believe we will see families, communities, constituencies, and the nation as a whole thrive,” she said.

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