We never thought it would happen so soon. After meeting FICCI-FLO (the ladies organization of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, or FICCI), a 90-plus-year-old group for the big continent of India just last July , I never doubted they would be in Manila soon. But so soon, and I am happy. These ladies cover the many regions of the huge sub-continent like Punjab, Bangalore, Madras, and name the city, they have members there. So when I visited, we just tossed the idea of their coming to Manila and AWEN (our group) coming to India in January or sooner.
Then, in September we were invited by South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF) led by Pramila Rijal and we went to Kathmandu, Nepal along with AWEN members like Nadira Yusoff of Malaysia and a Philippine delegation with GREAT Women’s Jeannie Javelosa, ECHOstore’s Reena Francisco, and co-chair of AWEN Boots Garcia. Now, they are also here for the ABIS (ASEAN Business and Investment Summit) organized by ASEAN-Business Advisory Council or ASEAN-BAC.
In just four months, these ladies will now meet our members from ASEAN, thanks to the support of UNESCAP’s Cai Cai and Director Nagesh Kumar and ASEAN-BAC of course.
Why all the excitement? Because these ladies come from countries that are near yet so far. Second, there is the visa requirement for us to visit them and them to visit us. Up to the last moment we were coordinating with PH Consulates abroad to make sure they got their visas on time. Then there is the long travel/long connections. One delegate was coming from Dubai, landing in Jakarta, connecting via Kula Lumpur to Manila. Another braved the fog and smog in the airports to connect to Calcutta to Delhi to Manila via Hongkong. It’s a long way to get here.
But this is what sets these women apart from the rest. They will endure long travels, hassles of preparations, remittances that would not go through, credit card payments that could not successfully send and all that.
While our ASEAN members take it easy—hop on a flight and come to Manila, visa-free. We never know the hassle until we are in it. But we carry on and fly to different cities to meet women entrepreneurs who wish to collaborate and do business with ASEAN. This time, they are all here.
For the next three days we will be networking and having face-to-face meetings with these wonderful business women from afar. And that’s something you cannot just have every day or every month of our year-long ASEAN celebration of the Philippine hosting and the 50th year of ASEAN.
So ladies, let’s roll up our sleeves and go to work!
Welcome to our part of the world.
Welcome to the Philippines.
Welcome to ASEAN.