The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) works for regional integration in South Asia, through policy, dialog and engagement with the eight country governments. The SAARC Charter includes the uplift of the people in the region through innovative and significant initiatives, targeting poverty alleviation.
The Independent South Asia Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) was established in order to exclusively address poverty related issues and suggest strategies and measures for poverty alleviation. Subsequently, the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) was launched to meet this objective.
A concrete outcome of the meetings to articulate SAARC objectives and Millennium Development Goals (MDG), was a felt need to focus on the empowerment of women workers in the informal sector within the SAARC region.
In line with this outcome, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India and HomeNet South Asia (HNSA) have been assigned a project by the SDF to carry out the mission of women’s empowerment in the region, by targeting poor & marginalized home based women workers from the informal sector of all SAARC member states (except India). As one of the first goals of implementing this initiative, the home-based workers expressed a need to create a business organization, hence the SAARC Business Association of Home-based Workers (SABAH) was established.
The focus of this regional initiative was to establish Trade FAcilitation Centres (TFCs) based on the model of the SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre.