Pluralism and the Pandemic

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Supporting Women Entrepreneurs Through the Pandemic, From Government to the Private Sector

An interview with Vanessa Erogbogbo

Publication Date: October 2020

Author: Vanessa Erogbogbo


Vanessa Erogbogbo

Vanessa Erogbogbo is Chief, Sustainable and Inclusive Value Chains section at the International Trade Centre and a member of the Management Action Group. She has over 20 years of experience in private sector development having worked in both international development and the private sector.

She oversees ITC’s work on sustainable value chains, and trade and gender encompassing the Trade for Sustainable Development programme which powers SMEs for a sustainable future with a focus on labour, social impact, climate change and environment, and the SheTrades initiative which is connecting 3 million women to market by 2021.

Vanessa is a member of the advisory board of the Geneva Trade Platform housed within the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, and is vice-chairperson of the EQUALS Global Partnership steering committee. She previously held positions at the International Finance Corporation, Standard Chartered Bank, and as an entrepreneur.

She holds an MBA from the London Business School, and MSc Information Technology and B.Eng Hons in Civil Engineering from Loughborough University, UK.

Vanessa Erogbogbo is Chief of the Sustainable and Inclusive Values Chains section at the International Trade Centre.

On supporting women's economic participation

I always start with the need to address stereotypes. These are the issues that are at the root of the challenges we face. We really need to call out gender stereotypes, biases, negative norms that impact women's participation, particularly from the leadership level. I urge all leaders to focus on that and be vocal.

Vanessa Erogbogbo, International Trade Centre

In this interview, Vanessa explores the effects of the pandemic in emerging economies, particularly on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which are predominantly run by self-employed women. These types of business have been hard-hit by the pandemic, which has exacerbated gender inequalities in the economy. She discusses how governments and the private sector have a role to play to provide women entrepreneurs with access to the digital economy, to family-friendly policies like childcare and flexible work and to the “green jobs” of the future.

Vanessa was interviewed by Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, on September 16, 2020.

Here is a link to the June 2020 study referenced by Vanessa, SME Competitiveness Outlook 2020 – COVID-19: the Great Lockdown and its Effects of Small Business.