Essential Business

New chamber of commerce for women unveiled in Portugal.

 In Chambers of Commerce, News, Trade

In what could be a first for Portugal, a new national business chamber solely for women, The Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry Portugal (WICCI Portugal) was launched in Lisbon last week.

The chamber aims to boost and build women’s entrepreneurship and business through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks.
WICCI Portugal also draws on a collective strength of 250,000+ members of the ALL Ladies League (ALL) which is a movement of ‘sisters beyond borders’ with circles of sisterhood worldwide in a ‘she-for-she’ spirit.
WICCI Portugal was launched in Portugal last week in the presence of the Indian Ambassador to Portugal, Manish Chauhan (pictured).
WICCI will work closely with the Portuguese Government, other governments and chambers of commerce, corporates, universities and diverse stakeholders across Portugal, India and internationally, toward empowering local and global ecosystems in support of women’s enterprises and businesses.
The unveiling at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon last week follows the successful Portugal-India Business Summit for Women organised by the Portugal-India Business Council which was held online on 11 March this year.
The President of WICCI Portugal, Marianela Mirpuri (Pictured third from left with Alida Castro, Tasneem Virani, Ambassador Manish Chauhan, Mary Pagano and Alexandra Bonte), who addressed business leaders and members of the Indian community, said that she had been challenged by WICCI and the Portugal-India Business Council to open a branch of the chamber in Portugal in 2020, but it had been impossible because of the pandemic.
Explaining how WICCI Portugal could act as a facilitator between Portugal and Indian business, Marianela Mirpuri highlighted that the population of the wider Indian community in Portugal stands at around 70,000, including 5,000 Indian citizens.
In fact, Portugal has the third highest population of people of Indian origin in Europe after the UK and the Netherlands.
“The Indian community enjoys a special position in Portugal because of its historical relations with India. The migration of the Indian community to Portugal took place in two waves: The first from Goa in 1961; the second in 1975 with migration from former Portuguese colonies, including Angola and Mozambique.
A bi-lateral agreement on trade and industrial and technical cooperation was signed in 1977, but trade had remained modest since then but has shown signs of growing in recent years.
In 2008, with the Great Recession, Portugal started to foster closer economic ties with developing countries, including India, with new engagements in economic areas such a infrastructure, IT, renewable energies being made.
“At WICCI Portugal we expect to play an important role in straightening the business relations between Portugal and India. As a national business chamber for women, WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and business through greater engagement with government, institutions and global trade”, said Marianela Mirpuri.
“National councils like WICCI Portugal which empowers women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors, can work with governments and corporates in conducting important research studies, support skills development and deliver mentorship programmes. It is our intention to run programmes with experts to help potential Indian women entrepreneurs in Portugal on topics such as how to raise funds, structure businesses, increase market share, drive sales and improve branding”.
WICCI Portugal will also organise delegations to visit the various public platforms, industry forums and other business chambers to promote trade, commerce and investment for women entrepreneurs and professionals.
The Indian Ambassador to India, Manish Chauhan said, “We Indians can be found everywhere. We were great traders and even had ships sailing across the seas in ancient times to both the East and the West”.
“India and Portugal have a very old and long history which in itself is very unique, rich and diverse with a natural impulse to work together”.
Mentioning that India has now become an “observer” of the CPLP (Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries), which opens a window of opportunity for third-party states to engage with the CPLP members on diplomatic, trade and other issues.
“Our interest in the Portuguese-speaking world is huge and the Portuguese-speaking people of the world at 300 million strong”, he said.
In 2019-20, bilateral trade amounted to US$886.60 million. Indian exports stood at US$744.79 million and Portuguese exports at US$141.82 million. The trade balance has consistently been in India’s favour.
Bilateral trade between India and Portugal had accelerated markedly in the 2019, with overall trade of goods increasing over 21% year-on-year and reaching an unprecedented high value of US$1.08Bn, as per AICEP (Portuguese overseas trade agency) statistics. Positive trading developments were interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. As per AICEP figures, overall bilateral trade in goods between Portugal and India decreased by almost 23% in the 2020, to US$819 million. Portuguese exports to India fell by 24%, whilst Indian exports to Portugal were somewhat less affected, falling by 13%. In 2020, India was Portugal’s 46th largest destination of goods (down from 42nd place in 2019) and its 15th largest supplier (up from 16th place in 2019).
Whereas precise figures are not available, Indian investments in Portugal are estimated to be in the range of up to US$475 million, including ongoing investments. They include the US$ 150 million acquisition by Aurobindo Pharma of the Portuguese pharmaceutical company Generis in 2017; over US$50 million of investments by the MGM Hotel Group in 3 hotels in the Algarve and 1 on Madeira; ongoing investments worth US$ 165 million (€150 million) by the Mumbai-based real estate developer Sugee Group (of which over US$7 million have already been invested in two construction projects in Lisbon); an investment by Zomato of US$13 million (€11 million) in its Lisbon facilities; a US$2 million contract by Tata Elxsi with NOS in the telecommunications sector; Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Iberoamerica (IT and software services); and a WIPRO IT support office in Porto. In addition, INDORAMA (a Thai group headed by an Indian national) has made a US$57 million (€50 million) investment in a petrochemical plant near Sines; and the Sam Pitroda Group is reportedly working to secure investments of US$914 million (€800 million) for a planned ‘Knowledge City’ project in Setúbal.
There had been an agreement signed between Portugal and India recently (13 September) on the recruitment of Indian citizens to work in Portugal. The bilateral agreement will ease the flow of legal labour migration to undertaken professional activities under contract and for the duration of that contract.


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