The steps to setting up a WBC

Starting a new Women’s Business Centre relies first and foremost on the existing drive of women entrepreneurs within the local community – coming together to strengthen their voice and power within key enterprise activities. This leads to greater access to existing resources from government agencies, unions and private companies.

Forming a WBC involves close collaboration with women entrepreneurs to map existing knowledge and practice, to respond to market opportunities with traditional skills and business innovations. The aim is to build new partnerships that support the power of women within the local economy.
A WBC typically starts in the business space but social enterprise and social network development are also vital to potential success. The following are the key phases to setting up a successful WBC:
1. Vision Development

The selection criteria for women entrepreneurs is one of the most important steps of the WBC formation process. The long-term success of a WBC depends on the passion, capacity and cooperative ability of entrepreneurs. The selection criteria includes:

  • A mix of young and older women, with existing business activities they are passionate about.
  • A willingness to work cooperatively and to enter joint enterprise
  • A willingness to invest in their own business, with diversified experience
  • A variety of income generating activities must be covered within the WBC
2. Market Assessment
Participatory assessments of the existing local markets and opportunities therin helps the business planning process and is a great way to build market linkages for women entrepreneurs.

3. Business Plan Development, Implementation and Financial Management

The “value web” of identified products for the WBC is mapped and analysed. In addition to economic value, cultural & relational value, ecological value, and social benefits are also considered amongst others.

This information is then used to create a strategy for the business, craft competitive market narratives, and identify target opportunities for producer skill development and training as well as potential market linkages for development.

Key actors across the value web are also identified in this process and engaged to ensure fair prices for input supplies through the WBCs ability to negotiate with wholesalers and other small and medium enterprises.

4. Producer Development

This final phase includes finding new opportunities for value enhancing products across the diverse arms of specific product’s value webs. The aim is to create a wide range of benefits for communities while also expanding into new markets and out competing commercial imports.

The formation of a WBC must advance and support agroecological and climate-sensitive social enterprises through community-driven value enhancements of key products – supporting enterprises that build cultural identity and biological diversity.