A 2010 report by IFC on Gender and Investment Climate Reform in Tonga shows that only 16 percent of the female population operate a registered business or participate in paid work. Many women also operate informal businesses and are unaware of the benefits of running a registered business. They also lack information on the processes needed to register.
IFC is helping a newly formed businesswomen’s association on the Pacific island of Tonga, The Women in Sustainable Enterprises (WISE) association, to connect businesswomen across all industries in Tonga and provide them with a platform to lobby for reforms that will help encourage women to set up businesses, create jobs, support their families, and foster sustainable economic growth across communities and the country.
Founding member and a registered business owner, Rubina Nakao, said, "Every person in business has challenges from time to time,and can always use a word of advice and encouragement at an appropriate moment. At times, a structured mentoring approach may be what is required to take an individual through the development process, and WISE Tonga feels we can be integral in fulfilling this role."
One of WISE's key objectives is to promote the benefit of registering a business, such as better access to credit, more legal protection, and stronger local government support.
"We want to bring in women from the informal sector, the grassroots area, and nurture them into the formal sector, so that in the end they pay their business license, learn to pay tax, and get recognized as women in business," said Lee Miller, another WISE's founding member and a business woman.